Posted by Olaniyi Abodedele on Sunday, April 6, 2014 Under: Our Headline Articles

Pretoria, South Africa: A large number of Nigerians in South Africa have called out to the South African government to help stop unlawful harassment and killing of their countrymen in the country. The Nigerians’ plea for help is coming at the heels of recent alleged attacks which they believe were targeted at Nigerian nationals by some members of South African law enforcement agents.

In a communiqué sent to the Nigerian Voice Newspaper on Wednesday 26th March 2014, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Union South Africa, Hon. Emeka Ezinteje Collins said that no fewer than 112 Nigerians were arrested and detained on Thursday 20th to Monday 24th of March 2014 by some police officers in the Germiston area of Johannesburg.
Hon. Emeka Ezinteje Collins said that the information was confirmed by Germiston Police Station Commander, Brig. Thambo during the Nigeria Union South Africa Executive members’ visit to the station on Monday 24th March 2014. Speaking to the Nigerian Union, the station commander confirmed that “a total number of 112 foreigners were arrested from Thursday 20th March to Monday 24th march 2014 in an operation that did not only target Nigerians alone but all foreigners”.

However, Brig. Thambo denied the allegation that the arrest was targeted against Nigerians alone. “The arrest was not targeted against Nigerians alone and the operation was aimed at encouraging foreigners to always move around with their Identity documents. The reason why all of the persons arrested are still in detention is because it takes officials from the Home Affairs Dept to arrive and clear them as the police do not have the power to clear persons arrested and detained on Immigration matters”, the station commander explained.
“The persons were arrested mostly on Thursday and since Friday was a holiday the police could only wait till Monday 24th March 2014 to invite the Home Affairs for clearance and those that do not have permit will be taken to Lindela deportation camp. Brig Thambo continued.

In the same month of March another sad incident of harassment which caught attention of the whole nation happened to a Nigerian in Cape Town.  Mr. Clement Emekeneh was arrested, publicly molested and was stripped naked by two white male police officers supported by some security operatives on the 7th of March 2014. The footage incident was captured on video by a South African passerby who sent the footage to a television station and the video went viral, confirmed the Chairman of Nigeria Union, Cape Town, Mr. Azu Okparaugo.

In its reaction of 20th March 2014, the Nigeria Union Cape Town, speaking through its Chairman, Mr. Azu Okparaugo condemned the action of the police officers demanding that such behaviors should not be condoled irrespective of nationality of person involved. The Union Chairman said that, “If Clement committed an offence; there are better ways of dealing with people who commit crime as prescribed by the law than what we saw on that video. What we saw on that video was a group of uniformed men abusing and humiliating an ordinary human being who happens to be a Nigerian. His right was violated and his dignity taken away. Treatment like this is unacceptable from the Police and should not be condoled whether it is meted out to a Nigerian or any other national”.

In a swift response, the Western Cape provincial commissioner Gen. Arno Lamoer announced the suspension of the two Police men involved in this incident and they were subsequently arrested. They appeared at Cape Town Regional court and were granted bail for R1500 each.

Nigeria Union Western Cape members said this incident have reminded them of the same incident which happened exactly the same time in 2013 “we will like to remind ourselves that at exactly the same time in 2013, the same Cape Town Police killed a Nigerian national - Mr. Obinna Ugbaja in a similar circumstance. 

The unresolved murder of Mr. Obinna Ugbaja in Cape Town also brings to mind the recent sorrowful end to the life of another  Nigerian, Mr. Emmanuel Okwu Okafor also known as Bosco. Bosco was shot on the head on the 11th March 2014 by a 35 year-old South African gay man inside a restaurant in a shopping complex at the Central Walk Shopping Centre in the CBD of Pretoria.

The Gauteng Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Union, Hon. Matthias Afolabi Sagbo who went to the scene of the incident, reported that Nigerians in the area were aggrieved because of the gruesome manner in which the deceased was murdered, despite his attempts to escape from the alleged killer. They were also worried that that the killer might not face the wrath of the law as it is often the case, because the murder was committed by a South African citizen against a Nigerian.

In another tail-twisting alleged abduction and murder case against officers of the South Africa police against Nigerian nationals, some Nigerians led by the Nigerian Union President, Mr. Ike Anyene carried out a demonstration in front of the Benoni Magistrate court, near Johannesburg, against the alleged kidnapping of a Nigerian Mr. Thaddeus Duru, by South African policemen. Mr. Duru, 52, from Imo state has not been seen since policemen interrogated him in his house on Jan 17, 2014.

The Benoni Magistrates’ Court, near Johannesburg granted bail to the accused in the sum of 1,000 Rand each, on Monday to the two South African police officers for allegedly kidnapping the Nigerian, Thaddeus Duru. According to the report of the News Agency of Nigeria, the prosecution told the court that Constables Evans Naidoo and A.B Twala of Brixton Flying Police Squad allegedly went to search the house of Duru in Benoni. He was allegedly kidnapped by the officers on January 17 at Benoni and had not been seen since then.
The Prosecutor, Mr. December Mtimunye, told the court that the accused tortured Duru; covered his face with a cellophane bag and tied him with plastic handcuff.

Mtimunye also said on sensing that Duru had passed on, the accused took the body away and that the body had not been seen since Jan. 17. He urged the court not to grant bail to the officers because they could jeopardize investigation on the incident. The prosecutor said the police were working with network service providers to get details of telephone conversation by the accused shortly after the incident.

Meanwhile the Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, His Excellency Ambassador Sunday Yusuf in an interview with the Nigerian Voice Newspaper in his Pretoria office, called on all Nigerians to be law abiding “my advice is not only to Nigerian here, but to Nigerians all over the world, not only to present ourselves in good stead, but also to ensure that we abide by the laws of our host and to ensure that we are involved in only activities that are legitimate”.

In the same vein, the Nigerian Consul-General,  Hon. Okey Emuchay (MFR) has warned Nigerians to be law abiding citizens in their host country and that South Africa is not Nigeria. He made this known in an interview with the Nigerian Voice Newspaper in his Johannesburg office “ The moment you board the airline or ship to another person’s country, you must comport yourselves, learn the ways, the laws and the regulations of your host country, if you don’t, the long arm of the law will catch up with you”. The Nigerian envoy assured Nigerians whose rights have been violated or harassed that the consulate will intervene and stand up for such Nigerians. “Ours is to come and intervene where necessary as part of our consular responsibility, but ours is not to encourage our nationals to go against the laws, regulations, customs, cultures and tradition of our host”.

“The Nigerian community is very vital to the Consulate and the welfare of Nigerians is one of the most important functions of the consulate” Okey Emuchay MFR emphasized.

The time has come for a high powered delegation meeting by well meaning Nigerians in South Africa stated Prince Afeeze a Nigerian citizen based in South Africa Mr. Afeeze said that “the time is now for us to stand up and tell ourselves the brutal truth about the attitudes of our fellow brothers whose way of life is affecting the totality of Nigerians in South Africa”
Nigerians in South Africa are worried about their safety and are asking the government of South Africa and well-meaning South Africans to prevail on the police authorities to call erring officers to order and justice. They plead for protection from the government as legal and law-abiding members of South African society.

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