By Charles Kumolu
NIGERIANS resident in South Africa resorted to self-defence yesterday in the face of xenophobic attacks by South Africans, who specifically targeted them in the latest wave of attacks against black immigrants, Saturday Vanguard learnt.
It was gathered that plans by South Africans to further attack Nigerians especially those resident in Pretoria and Johannesburg last Thursday, was thwarted by Nigerians, who defended themselves having earlier been informed of the scheduled attacks.
Specifically, an investigation by Saturday Vanguard revealed that the Nigerian Embassy in South Africa rose to the occasion as it informed Nigerians of the imminent attacks and consequently advised that they should close their business places.
The counsel by the Embassy to stay away from trouble was heeded by Nigerians, who stayed indoors But many of them armed themselves and were ready to battle the attackers who consequently exercised caution.
Saturday Vanguard further learnt that the intelligence provided by the Embassy prevented the quantum of loss recorded by Nigerians from being worst in human and material terms.
The South African Police, it was gathered had used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon to disperse anti-immigrant protesters in Pretoria yesterday.
It was further learnt that both the protesting South Africans and foreigners were armed with sticks, bricks and knives.
These came as President Jacob Zuma condemned the attacks on Africans residing in the country.
“Many citizens of other countries living in South Africa are law abiding and contribute to the economy of the country positively,” he noted.
These findings which were gathered from different sources in South Africa were corroborated by a former Nigerian international, Mr. Peterside Idah on his Twitter handle@IdahPeterside yesterday.
The South African-based former footballer had stated thus: ‘’It’s a standoff in Pretoria, Nigerians have refused to hide. South Africans marching are being confronted by Nigerians carrying guns.”
To further get a detailed account of the tweet, Saturday Vanguard had a telephone conversation with Idah.
The conversation reads: ‘’Nigerians armed themselves and waited for South Africans. The involvement of the Police tamed the rioters and made the situation to calm down. Before the xenophobic attacks were against black foreigners. But the recent one was targeted at Nigerians specifically. Nigerians were being accused of doing drugs and prostitution more than others. So, they targeted Nigerians.
‘’When they planned the attacks again, Nigerians armed themselves and waited. But our Embassy passed information that Nigerians should close shops and avoid trouble which they heeded. And there has been relative peace. Since Thursday people have remained indoors. South African Police have done a good job. They are moving around and policing everywhere. Nigerians have had peace. No killing has been reported since yesterday.”