South Africa has closed its consulate in Nigeria following protests outside its offices against xenophobic violence.
The West African country’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Musiliu Obanikoro invited South Africa’s high commissioner Lulu Mnguni to discuss the “on-going xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans in South Africa”, the Nigerian foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The essence of the summon was to register Nigeria’s protest over the on-going xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans in South Africa.”
Obanikoro has been open on Twitter about ensuring the safety of Nigerian nationals in South Africa since the anti-immigrant violence began three weeks ago.
Diplomats from several African countries have urged their citizens back home not to seek vengeance.
According to Reuters, the Democratic Republic of the Congo ambassador Bene M’Poko told journalists, “We are appealing to our countries not to retaliate”.
He stressed that South African firms in the rest of the continent were “working peacefully”.
However, it seems the xenophobic attacks could pose a threat on the socio-economic relationship between Nigeria and South Africa. Many have asked whether South African companies in Nigeria would shut their doors because of anti-xenophobic protests in that country.
There have since been protests outside MTN offices in Nigeria however the South African telecommunication giant’s spokesperson Chris Maroleng told CNBC Africa that the company was monitoring the situation.
“We are monitoring the situation quite closely to ensure that both our operations continue and staff in our facilities are safe,” said Maroleng.
Asked about the possibility of shutting down its Nigeria offices, Maroleng said, “The talk of shutting down our operation in Nigeria is extremely alarming. We don’t want to fuel this speculation.”
He reemphasised that business was as usual in Nigeria.
Nigerians have also condemned the treatment that their fellow countrymen have witnessed in South Africa.
After pressure from other governments, on Tuesday, South Africa deployed its Defence Force to assist the police in curbing further xenophobic violence in the country.