South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has linked the killings of Nigerians in South Africa to criminal elements.
Ramaphosa said this while addressing journalists during his visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Describing the killing of Nigerians in South Africa as criminally motivated, Ramaphosa explained that Nigerians are not the only victims of crimes in his country.
“There are many other social factors that have contributed to the high levels of crime and criminality is something we are focusing on. We are doing everything to bring it down,” he said.
Admitting that South Africans were more of the perpetrators of the criminal acts, Ramaphosa said: “In the course of everything else, people in various part of the country do get engulfed in acts of criminality, the majority of them are South Africans."
Earlier reacting to the xenophobic attack on Nigerians this year, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had said South Africa has the highest crime rate in Africa.
“The crime situation in South Africa is very high, probably the highest in Africa," he said. "So there is a high level of crime; it is not just that Nigerians are victims of crime in South Africa.”
Onyeama blamed the unending xenophobic attacks on trust deficit between the Nigerian Union of South Africa and the South African police.
Ramaphosa’s visit is his first visit to Nigeria and also the first outside the borders of South African development community countries since he took over leadership of his country.
Xenophobia attacks in South Africa have led to the death of many Nigerians, in recent years including 39-year-old Uchenna Eloh and 35-year-old Clement Kalu, who was allegedly tortured to death by the South African police.