By Sheji Halima
The Nigeria Union South Africa (NUSA), has urged Nigerians living in South Africa to be vigilant and adopt safety and security measures as protests spread over the incarceration of former President Jacob Zuma.
Zuma, 79, was jailed for defying a court order to testify before a state-backed inquiry probing allegations of corruption against him during his term as president from 2009 to 2018.
The President of the union, Mr Adetola Olubajo, gave the advice in a statement emailed to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) from Johannesburg on Monday.
He said five businesses belonging to Nigerians were among those destroyed on Sunday as the country grapple with the violence.
The protests that engulfed Kwa Zulu Natal and Gauteng Province has spread to other parts of the country leading to looting and damaging of property.
Zuma’s bid to be released from the Estcourt Correctional Centre was rejected by a regional court on Friday.
He is set to make another attempt on Monday with the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court.
The rioting by Zuma’s supporters began in his home region of KwaZulu-Natal province last week and spread during the weekend to Gauteng province, including Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city.
Olubajo said that the union had undertaken a fact-finding trip and was highly disturbed by the extent of looting, destructions and violence perpetrated by the angry protesters.
“Violent protest erupted in Kwa Zulu Natal province during the weekend after the incarceration of former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.
“More than 18 trucks had been set ablaze, businesses looted and properties damaged.
“These violent protests spread on Sunday to some cities in Gauteng, especially Jeppetown, Jules Street, Hillbrow, Alexander, Springfield Park, Vosloorus areas of Johannesburg.
“These violent looting and attacks are spreading rapidly to other areas of Gauteng and Kwa Zulu Natal Province with cars burnt and businesses belonging to both locals and foreign nationals looted and destroyed,’’ he said.
He said that South African Police had confirmed the arrest of over 200 offenders, several injured people, including a police officer killed on Sunday and six others.
Olubajo added that the union was yet to get the identities of those arrested and those who died.
“At this point, the South African police seem overwhelmed by the massive crowd and the situation is getting out of hand.
“We have identified five businesses belonging to Nigerians that were looted and destroyed on Sunday by the angry mob in Johannesburg.
“The looting and destructions of property has continued unabated till today.”
He appealed to Nigerians there to remain calm and law abiding but be very vigilant.
The president said NUSA national secretariat had already issued safety tips to Nigerians, and would continue to give such useful information.
“The union’s emergency management team is monitoring the situation and providing help to Nigerian nationals in areas it can.
“We also urge Nigerians to continue to observe all COVID-19 protocols to avoid contacting the virus.’’ (NAN)