A 42-year-old Nigerian automobile mechanic lost N240.650million (R10m) to the xenophobic attack on his workshop in South Africa last weekend.
Mr. Simon Adeoye told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone from Pretoria, South Africa, that he got a call on the day of the incident that his workshop had been set ablaze and rushed to the place.
“By the time I got there, 29 cars of different make, some Nigerian passports, documents of the workshop, money and other personal effects had been destroyed by fire.
“I was helpless and could not do anything,” he said.
Adeoye said some of the cars belonged to South Africans; others were being repaired for sale.
“I appeal to the Federal Government to assist me get back to business. Officials of the Nigerian mission have visited the workshop to do an assessment and we are yet to hear from them,” he said.
According to him, the mission should replace the passports gutted by fire to enable affected Nigerians have documents.
Adeoye said officials of Nigeria Union visited and commiserated with him on the incident.
“At the moment, I have lost everything I have. I need urgent help to re-start my business. This will also assist me pay my workers who have families to cater for,” he said.
The police said at least 20 shops, possibly belonging to immigrants, were looted in South Africa’s capital overnight, but they could not confirm if the attacks had deliberately targeted foreigners.
Anti-immigrant violence has flared sporadically in South Africa against a background of near-record unemployment, with foreigners being accused of taking jobs from locals and getting involved in crime.
Responding to similar incidents in Pretoria at the weekend, Nigeria’s foreign ministry said it would summon South Africa’s envoy to raise its concerns over “xenophobic attacks” on Nigerians, other Africans and Pakistanis.
South African police said they did not yet know the motive for the latest attacks, and no deaths had been reported.
Police spokeswoman Brig. Mathapelo Peters said: “There are allegations that these shops belong to foreign nationals.
“It is alleged that the community members are saying that these shops were used for drug dealing but that is unconfirmed.
“We will only be able to start a formal investigation once the shop owners come forward.”
The Atteridgeville neighbourhood, where the looting took place, was calm on Tuesday as police cars drove through the streets.
An unemployed man in his mid-twenties, who declined to be named, said: “We are sick and tired of foreigners who are coming to sell drugs and kill our people; we can’t let the community go down like this.”
South Africa, with a population of about 50 million, is home to an estimated five million immigrants.
In April 2015, Nigeria recalled its top diplomat in South Africa to discuss anti-immigrant attacks which killed at least seven people and sent hundreds of foreigners fleeing to safety camps, as authorities sent in soldiers to quell unrest in Johannesburg and Durban.
In 2008, at least 67 people were killed in anti-immigrant violence, with thousands of people fleeing to refugee camps.