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Xenophobia: ‘You lied’ – Catholic Bishops tell South Africa govt [Full Statement]

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Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa have responded to the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

The Bishops told the South African government that it lied when it excused the recent attacks on foreign nationals in the country as not being xenophobic, but the work of criminal elements.

A statement on Saturday by Archbishop Buti Tlhagale (OMI) of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) Office for Migrants and Refugees, also maintained that the attacks were not an attempt by concerned South Africans to rid the cities of drug dealers as being claimed in some quarters.

The full statement reads:

“It is with dismay that we take note of the recent upsurge in violence against foreign nationals, starting two weeks ago in the Johannesburg CBD, last week in Pretoria, and this week again in the Johannesburg CBD, Malvern, Turffontein and Krugersdorp.

“Once again we receive reports of the authorities doing very little to protect the victims. We received report of police standing by idly in Pretoria while shops were looted and people attacked. Not a single arrest was made on that day.

“Once again the authorities resort to the old explanation: that this is not xenophobia, but the work of criminal elements.

“Let us be absolutely clear – this is not an attempt by concerned South Africans to rid our cities of drug dealers. And this is not the work of a few criminal elements. It is xenophobia, plain and simple. If it was about drugs, why are South African drug dealers not being targeted as well? Are we really to believe that there are none?

“And why are drug addicts who rob people in our city centres to get money to buy drugs not being targeted? If it is the work of a few criminal elements, why are South African owned businesses not being looted as well?

“The teaching of the Church is direct and uncompromising. More than 80% of South Africans claim to be Christian. What are our religious leaders teaching the multitudes that fill our Churches every Sunday? Galatians 3:28 says: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” By the same token, there is neither South African nor Nigerian nor Ethiopian. We are all one in Christ Jesus.

“God makes it absolutely clear that He has a special concern for refugees, migrants and strangers. Deuteronomy 10:18 says: “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” He isn’t just concerned about the foreigners. He loves them.

“Jesus goes even further. Matthew 25 says: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me”.. He identifies directly with strangers. By welcoming a refugee or migrant, we are welcoming Jesus Himself.

“In his scathing attack on the inactivity of people of good will to do anything against the Nazi tyranny in Germany, Pastor Martin Niemoller said:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

“Let us take heed of this. We are facing a rising tide of hatred and intolerance, no different to the rising tide of hatred in Nazi Germany. If we do not take urgent action to stop it, there will be nothing left.

“I appeal to all people of faith, and all people of good will, to speak out and take action. In the words of St Francis: ‘Make us channels of your peace’.

“My prayer is that God will fulfil his promise made in Ezekiel 36:26: ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.’”

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Buhari

Pressure On Buhari To Sue South Africa For Xenophobic Attacks

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The federal government says it will not rule out any option in its response to xenophobic attacks against Nigerians by South Africa, The Guardian reports.

It stated this following the advice by a former External Affairs Minister and Professor of Political Science, Bolaji Akinyemi, urging the Nigerian government to take South Africa to the International Criminal Court of Justice.

The violence against Nigerians and other Africans in parts of South Africa had erupted on September 1, forcing the Nigerian government to evacuate its citizens from the country. Akinyemi accused the South African government of failing to protect Nigerians and making statements unbecoming of a responsible country.

According to him, Nigeria must sue because the attacks were in violation of Article 2, Paragraph 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. He said they also violated Article 2, Paragraph 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers.






He further accused South African authorities of sponsoring or condoning the attacks, noting that the stance of the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Naledi Pandor, amounted to Acrophobia.

He noted that statements by South African leaders such as Pandor, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and former Deputy Minister of Police Bongani Mkongi encouraged the latest attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals.

But former Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku said it would not be wise for Nigeria to approach the ICC on the matter, stressing: “The two countries have large mutual interests to protect for themselves and for Africa.”

He said the statement of apology by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday at the funeral of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Harare “should be welcomed and high-level diplomacy should now be employed by Nigeria to de-escalate the situation and make South Africa pay compensation”.






Anyaoku described the recurring aggression as provocative, given Nigeria’s role in ushering in non-racial democracy in South Africa and his (Anyaoku’s) seminal role as Commonwealth Secretary-General in the negotiations.

“It is very saddening,” he said, “to see the current xenophobic violence against Nigerians and other Africans legally residing and doing business in South Africa. But maturity and internal African solution must be brought to bear on the situation.”

President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina and Special Adviser on Diaspora Abike Dabiri-Erewa said only the ministers of foreign affairs and information could comment on Akinyemi’s advice.“All matters relating to diplomatic moves or foreign affairs policies should be directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs,” Dabiri-Erewa said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama told The Guardian that Nigeria “cannot rule anything out for now” when asked if the country would sue South Africa. “We are still receiving reports from our High Commission and the Consulate General, evaluating them and weighing options,” Onyeama said.

Minister of Information Lai Mohammed had not replied to the inquiry sent to him at the time of filing this report.

Ramaphosa, meanwhile, has dispatched three special envoys to seven African countries to deliver messages of pan-African unity and solidarity following the attacks, said presidential spokesperson, Khusela Diko.






The envoys will reassure fellow African countries that South Africa is committed to the ideals of pan-African unity and solidarity. They will also reaffirm South Africa’s commitment to the rule of law, Diko said.

The envoys, according to him, will visit Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

They will brief governments in the countries about steps the South African government is taking to stop the attacks and hold the perpetrators to account.

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Arewa

Katsina: Bandits free 30 more captives after deal with govt

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Repentant bandits in Katsina have released additional 30 kidnapped victims, following the dialogue initiated by the state government with their leaders.

The victims were presented to Gov. Aminu Masari at the Government House on Sunday in Katsina.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the victims were kidnapped by the bandits from Kankara and Shimfida, both in Jibia Local Government area of the state.

They were thereafter taken to their hideout in Damsadau forest, Zamfara State, where they spent some weeks.

Addressing the victims, Masari said that government would continue to persuade the bandits to release more kidnapped people until all of them were freed.

He directed that the released victims be taken to hospital for medical check up before reuniting them with their respective families.

One of the victims, Zinatu Sani from Kankara, while narrating her ordeal in the hands of the bandits, said that she was kidnapped from her matrimonial home, with two of her children.

She said that the bandits demanded for a N20 million ransom before they could release her and the children.

Sani explained that the ransom was later reduced to N6 million which, she said, her family could still not afford to pay.

She said that the suspected bandits used to give them rice to cook, with only water and salt.

“For 55 days, we slept in an open place without a roof, not minding the rainfall or heat,” she lamented.

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Crime

Drunk policeman stabs nine at nightclub in Ondo

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A policeman identified as Sergeant Taiwo Orisadare has allegedly stabbed nine persons at a popular nightclub in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

Trouble started at the nightclub, which is located in Alagbaka GRA area of Akure over the weekend, when the policeman attached to the Akure Area Commander’s office allegedly began to behave in an erratic manner.

According to eyewitnesses, the drunk policeman became unruly and started harassing the victims who had come to unwind at the club.

One of the eyewitnesses, who narrated the incident, stated that “It was so clear that he (Sergeant Orisadare) was so drunk and was already becoming something else at the club.

“He won’t just listen to those trying to tell him to take things easy. Things went awry as he started attacking everyone he could lay hands on.

“He stabbed nine people before he could be overpowered.”

Meanwhile, some of the victims, who were attacked by the police officer, are currently recuperating in various hospitals, while some are in critical condition.

The Police Public Relations Officers of the state command, Femi Joseph stated that both parties were engaged in a brawl.

“They were both fighting. The policeman did not stab anyone to death. Do you even know the condition of the policeman now?” He asked.

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