AGAIN, South Africa yesterday apologised to Nigeria but ruled out payment of compensation to the 125 Nigerians who were refused entry to the country on March 2, 2012.
The deportation which sparked a diplomatic row calmed only with apology by the South African government to Nigeria over the incident. But before then, about 131 South Africans had already been refused entry to Nigeria.
Special envoy of South African President, Jacob Zuma and South African Minister for Correctional Services, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told journalists after meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa Abuja that the fact that South Africa has publicly and repeatedly apologised to Nigeria should be enough.
Mapisa-Nqakula added that “the issue of compensation is out of the question. We don’t understand why South Africa will have to compensate. We believe that it is enough that we have come out and apologised. It is enough that we have demonstrated our goodwill to the government of Nigeria. It is enough that the President has sent a special envoy to reiterate his commitment to the bi-national commission with Nigeria and to improve working relationship with Nigeria.”
She added that “we are currently conducting an investigation and we have announced in South Africa that there will be consequences for whoever took that decision. But the nature of the sanction will depend on the people who took that decision.”
On the outcome of the meeting with President Jonathan in his office, Mapisa-Nqakula stated “we had a very good discussion with both the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Obviously, as you expect and as you know, we were discussing the events that occurred two weeks ago in South Africa and you are aware by now that South Africa issued a public apology to the people of Nigeria, to the Government of Nigeria and of course in particular, to the President of Nigeria.
“On behalf of the people of South Africa, on behalf of our Government and on behalf of our President, it is important to reassure the people of Nigeria that there was no decision of cabinet to deport big numbers of people from Nigeria. There was no deliberate and Xenophobia is not the policy of government in South Africa and there was no deliberate attack on the integrity on the people of Nigeria. In fact, we have about two million Nigerians living in South Africa. We co-exist and some of them work very closely with us.”