President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has apologised to Nigeria over the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in the country.
Ramaphosa sent Jeff Radebe, a special envoy, to President Muhammadu Buhari, to tender an apology letter on behalf of the South Africa government at the state house in Abuja on Monday.
Radebe condemned the incessant xenophobic attacks, describing them as “acts of criminality and violence.”
“Such do not represent our value system, nor those of the larger number of South Africans,” the letter reads in part.
The special envoy revealed that 10 people died during the attacks – two Zimbabweans and eight South Africans. According to him, no Nigerian casualty was recorded.
The letter added that South Africa remains eternally grateful for the role Nigeria played during the struggle against apartheid, and hoped that President Buhari’s subsequent visit to South Africa would strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
Ramaphosa had dispatched three envoys to seven African countries – Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, to deliver messages of pan-African unity.
This is coming after Ramaphosa was booed in Zimbabwe last Saturday at Robert Mugabe’s funeral in Harare while addressing mourners.
President Buhari acknowledged the apology letter sent and thanked Ramaphosa “for coming to explain to us what happened in South Africa recently, leading to killing and displacement of foreigners”.
The president went down memory lane, recalling that Nigeria made “great sacrifices” for South Africa in the fight against apartheid.
“I was a junior officer to Gen. Murtala Muhammad and Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. They were not operating in a democracy, but they got Nigerians to support them in the bid to see a free South Africa,” Buhari said in a statement issued by Femi Adesina, his media spokesman on Monday.
“Our leadership was quite committed to the cause. We made sacrifices, which younger people of today may not know.
During my last visit to South Africa with the late President Robert Mugabe, it was very emotional, as Mugabe spoke about Nigeria’s contribution to free South Africa.”
Buhari however pledged that relationship between the two countries “will be solidified”.