Xenophobic attacks: I lost N240.6m, says Nigerian mechanic

Ramon Oladimeji with agency reports

A 42-year-old South Africa-based Nigerian automobile mechanic, Mr. Simon Adeoye, said on Tuesday that he lost N240.6m (R10m) to the xenophobic attacks by South Africans on his workshop on Saturday

Adeoye told the News Agency of Nigeria on the telephone from Pretoria, South Africa, that he got a call on the day of the incident that his workshop had been set ablaze and that he rushed to the place.

“By the time I got there, 29 cars of different makes, some Nigerian passports, documents of the workshop, money and other personal effects had been destroyed by fire,” he said.

Adeoye stated that some of the cars belonged to South Africans while others were being repaired for sale.

“I appeal to the Federal Government to assist me get back to business. Officials of the Nigerian mission have visited the workshop to do an assessment and we have yet to hear from them,” he said.

He appealed to the mission to replace the passports lost to the inferno in order to enable affected Nigerians have immigration documents.

Adeoye stated that officials of the Nigerian mission had visited and commiserated with him on the unfortunate incident.

“At the moment, I have lost everything I have. I need urgent help to restart my business. This will also assist me to pay my workers who have families to cater for,” he said.

Meanwhile, the police in South Africa on Tuesday said no fewer than 20 shops, possibly belonging to immigrants, were looted during Saturday night’s attacks in the former apartheid enclave.

They could not, however, confirm if the attacks had deliberately targeted foreigners.

The police said they did not yet know the motive for the latest attacks and no deaths had been reported.

Police spokeswoman, Mathapelo Peters, said, “There are allegations that these shops belong to foreign nationals. It is alleged that the community members are saying that these shops were used for drug dealing but that is unconfirmed.

“We will only be able to start a formal investigation once the shop owners come forward.”

The Atteridgeville neighbourhood, where the looting took place, was calm on Tuesday as police cars drove through the streets.

In April 2015, Nigeria recalled its top diplomat in South Africa to discuss anti-immigrant attacks that killed at least seven people and sent hundreds of foreigners fleeing to safety camps over unrest in Johannesburg and Durban.

In 2008, at least 67 people were killed in anti-immigrant violence with thousands of people fleeing to refugee camps.

Meanwhile, the South African chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress says the Federal Government must demand an apology from the South African government over the attacks on Nigerians in Pretoria by some disgruntled South Africans.

The party, in an open letter by its chairman, Bola Babarinde, and secretary, Prof. Oludayo Fasina, on Tuesday, frowned on what it called the failure of the South African government to address the recurring issue of xenophobic attacks by South African citizens on foreign nationals.

It noted the last one which occurred on February 17, 2017 in Pretoria West led to the burning, looting and destruction of the properties of Nigerians even as many suffered serious injuries for no just cause.

The South African APC said it was also aware of a rumour that there would be a repeat of the attacks between February 22 and 24.

It called on the ruling African National Congress in South Africa to rise up and not allow “disgruntled and uninformed elements in the society to disrupt the good works the leadership had been implementing since the advent of democracy in 1994.”

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