Should we start counting how many South Africans have died in South Africa at the hands of Nigerians?
This is the question posed by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba in response to a question about the figure of 116 Nigerians said to have been killed in South Africa in the past two years.
This week a senior Nigerian presidential aide on foreign affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said 20 Nigerians were killed last year alone and called on the African Union to intervene in what Dabira-Erewa was quoted as saying were “killings in South Africa”.
But Gigaba said this was the discussion South Africa would not want to get into as it would turn ugly.
“I am not privy to the figures from the Nigerian government and how they collected them. I do not think it is the discussion we want to get into. It will turn out very bad.
“Should we start counting how many South Africans have died in South Africa at the hands of Nigerian nationals?” the minister asked in Cape Town yesterday.
Gigaba said countries should desist from pointing fingers at each other.
“It is something we need to discourage strongly because we heighten the situation rather than lessen it,” he said.
Gigaba said he had requested a meeting with African Union ambassadors today to discuss recent incidents of attacks on foreigners in South Africa.
Gigaba said on a visit to Rosettenville, in Johannesburg, where residents went on the rampage burning houses believed to be brothels and drug dens, that people were clear that they were not targeting foreigners or Nigerian immigrants.
He said the residents were targeting immigrants involved in crime.