By Mike Mbonye
Lagos – The Nigerian Community in South Africa, say, four members are in critical condition in the hospital while some shops have been burnt in renewed attacks by South Africans.
Mr Paul Nwanedo, chairman, Nigerian Union, North West Province chapter told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the telephone from Rustenburg that the attacks against Nigerians began on Sunday.
He said that taxi drivers in Rustenburg alleged that a Nigerian abducted and raped a 16-year-old South African girl and also alleged that Nigerians sold drugs to a local gang that attacked their members.
“ This is absolutely untrue. We have investigated and found out that the allegations are false. The union is worried about the safety of our members in Rustenburg,” he said.
Nwanedo said that four Nigerians caught by the taxi drivers were beaten and are in critical condition in the hospital while some shops belonging to Nigerians had been torched.
“ As I speak to you, we are afraid because the attacks have continued and our members are still in hiding.
“We have reported to the police and our national secretariat. We want the safety of lives and property of our people,” he said.
Mr Adetola Olubajo, President of the union, said that the national secretariat had been informed about the incident at Rustenburg.
“ Investigation by the union shows that no Nigerians abducted or raped a South African girl. Indeed, no Nigerian has been arrested for the offence and we are worried about the turn of events.
“ The lives and property of our citizens in Rustenburg are in danger and there is an urgent need for intervention. We appeal to our mission and Federal government to intervene urgently and save the situation,” Olubajo said.
Spokesman of the police in Rustenburg, Brig-Gen. Sabata Mokgwabone said the reasons for the violent protest was unclear but confirmed that “ the burnt houses are those occupied by foreign nationals,”
North West Provincial Commissioner of Police, Lt.-Gen. Baile Motswenyane called on the public to work with law enforcement officials.
“ Those who are doing this must know that they are committing a crime and drastic action will be taken, including against our own members who are involved in criminal activities,” he said.