The death toll of Nigerians killed in South Africa has continued to rise with the frequent xenophobic attacks between 2016 and 2019. Available estimates from Statistics South Africa and the United Nations show that over 30,000 Nigerians live in South Africa.
Data reveal that 127 Nigerians have been killed in three years, while 13 out of these were reportedly killed by South African police. The most disturbing of these killings are extrajudicial killings by the operatives of South African Police Service. From January to June 2019, 10 Nigerians have been killed, either by citizens of South Africans or South African Police Service.
Timeline of Nigerians killed in South Africa
February 3 2019: 2019 xenophobic killings started with the picture of an unknown Nigerian who is in his mid-20s being shared with claims the SAPS killed him.
A twitter user Ndugozie, who tweeted with his handle @NduChiogie, gave more information about the killings. He said the Nigerian travelled to South Africa on January 14 and was killed on February 3.
He tweeted, “This Nigerian guy travelled to South Africa on 14 January 2019 and was killed on February 3. Please, the Federal Government should try and stop this innocent Nigerians being killed anyhow in South Africa.”
March 15 2019: Another unidentified Nigerian was killed in a drive-by shooting in the in Troye Street, Sunnyside, Pretoria.
According to eye-witnesses, the attackers were trailing his car and drove beside him when he stopped, shooting him multiple times.
The victim, 44, was attacked after he had dropped off his brother. SAPS said a case of murder was being investigated.
April 5 2019: Goziem Akpenyi was stabbed to death at Bellville Stadium parking lot in Cape Town at about 1 pm. He was stabbed by three unidentified coloured South African men after an argument and died on the spot.
April 6 2019: Mr Bonny Iwuoha, 48, from Ihitte/Uboma in Imo State, was also stabbed to death at about 11:45 pm in Johannesburg.
It was gathered that he was trailed from 152 Hay Street Turffontein, and thereafter, stabbed and killed him in front of his gate at Turf Road, Turffontein.
April 27 2019: 34-year-old Nigerian, Samuel Nkennaya, was killed by some South Africans. His attackers claimed to have thought he kidnapped a six-year-old girl he was holding. Nkennaya was mobbed together with his friend Chinonso Nwudo when they came out of a supermarket. Nkennaya died at the scene of the mob while Nwudo was left in critical condition.
April 28 2019: Ebuka Udugbo was allegedly killed by South African Police.
Udugbo was said to have had a quarrel with his girlfriend on the morning of April 28. His girlfriend reportedly called the police after he had left the house but the police went after him and arrested him.
Reacting to the killing, the President of the Nigerian Citizens Association South Africa (NICASA), Ben Okoli, said, “The police took his car keys, left the car by the way and drove with him back to his house in the police car along with the girlfriend.
“He was severely beaten by the cops in his house and he fainted. At this point, the landlord’s son feared and told the police to take him to the hospital.”
It was reported that he was taken to the station instead where the beating continued and he died in the station. When Udogbo’s relative went to the station to bail him, the police told them he had committed suicide.
May 3 2019: Okechukwu Henry from Nigeria’s Imo State was stabbed to death by unidentified robbers in Mpumalanga. Henry, a car dealer who specialised in used cars, lived in Middleburg Mpumalanga Province. Earlier before his death, some two local guys had indicated interest to buy his car – a white VW Polo. After negotiation, they requested to take the car for a test ride. Henry accepted and drove along with them. As they drove out, he suddenly realised that they were robbers as they demanded the key of the car.
They stabbed him several times, took the keys but could not manage to drive away from the car. Their action attracted the attention of people around and they ran away with the keys without the car.
June 13 2019: Obianuju Ndubuisi-Chukwu, a Nigerian insurance chief, was killed in her hotel room.
She was found dead in her room at Emperor Palace Hotel after attending a meeting of the African Insurance Organisation in the South African commercial capital. Her death sparked outrage both in Nigeria and South Africa with the Nigerian senate urging President Muhammadu Buhari to issue a travel alert on South Africa.
June 14 2019: Maxwell Ikechukwu Okoye was reportedly killed by South African police officers at about 01:00 hours on Friday, June 14. The police invaded his house in Ladysmith in Kwazulu Natal Province. By morning, the police reported him dead claiming he was foaming when they broke into his house.
The Consul General of the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg, Mr Godwin Adama, said by the time members of the Nigerian community in the area got to Okoye’s home, his house was turned upside down and he was reported dead by the police, who took his corpse to the mortuary on their own.
July 20 2019: The latest of the killings of Nigerians in South Africa was the death of a 17-year-old Chinonso Obiaju who was killed in Johannesburg.
It was reported that he went to buy an item from a shop with his friend when someone chased and opened fire on them, killing him.
Nigerians have at different times protested against the killing of its citizens but it does not seem an end would come to it soon with the Nigerian government making no proactive move to curb the killings.
The Nigerian government has yet to take any serious actions to address the killings despite calls and pressures from Nigerians pushing for action on the part of the President.
In the case where arrests were made, the suspects were released and the case dies naturally. However, an arrest and prosecution reported were in October 2017.
Badmus Olalekan from Lagos State was killed by officers of the South African police. His death led to the arrest and arraignment of eight policemen in Vanderbijlpark, near Johannesburg. The case is currently at the High Court in Johannesburg and will be concluded in October 2019 going by the conclusions of the last court sitting.
Nigerians continue to demand the intervention of Buhari-led government to put an end to the killings and safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians in South Africa and other countries.