Just before the New Year, yet another Nigerian was killed in Cape Town, South Africa, in a most brutish and gruesome manner.It was bad enough that the killing was by the South African police; it was bad enough that it was an extra-judicial killing but most galling is that the victim’s life was snuffed out as if he were a mere animal.
According to reports, Victor Nnadi was suffocated to death by the Metropolitan Police in Cape Town while his brother was detained. Nnadi was said not to have resisted arrest by the police. They had indeed handcuffed him before one of the officers held his neck and squeezed it until blood gushed out of his mouth.
The Nigerian Union in South Africa also reported that on December 24, last year, one Austin Agunwa was abducted by unknown persons in Rustenburg, North West Province. A search team later found the victim’s car abandoned after a crash near a bridge. As at the time of report early January, his whereabouts was yet unknown and none had claimed responsibility for his abduction.
In the last couple of years, South Africa has become something of a land of sorrow and brutal deaths not only for Nigerians but most of black African citizens resident there. About two years ago, xenophobic attacks and killings were rampant with South African mobs targeting fellow blacks living in their country.
Their grouse was that the immigrants had taken the jobs meant for them. There were gory pictures of blacks chased down and surrounded by zealots and beaten to stupor and sometimes death in broad daylight.
Nigerians in particular have been subjected to an especial cruel treatment in South Africa. It is reported that about 20 Nigerians were killed last year alone, both by the police and a xenophobic populace. It is said that Nigerians are the most upwardly mobile blacks in the country and in some places, outshine even the native black.
In spite of heavy and sometimes punitive restrictions imposed by the home government on trade and commerce, Nigerians have continued to thrive and dominate in some quarters. This obviously would trigger envy and loathing.
There is also the factor of crime and unethical practices. Nigerians have been suspected to increasingly engage in all manner of vices, crimes and sharp practices in business dealings. Drug peddling, counterfeiting, and even ritual killings are said to be linked more to the fast-growing Nigerian community across South Africa.
Both none of these would justify the kind of faith that befell Victor Nnadi and most others that may have been killed in similar circumstances. South Africa is noted for her well-developed security system, legal and judicial institutions. It is a reproach on these apparatuses of state that a police officer in uniform would wring the neck of a suspect in broad daylight.
Such bestiality must never be allowed in any modern state. It must be condemned in its totality. No matter the crime Nnadi may have committed, the action of this police officer has over- shadowed it as he has proved to be a worse criminal than the victim.
This is one summary killing too many. We expect the Nigerian government to do more than condemning this killing as has been done once again. Government must quickly investigate this death and 19 others allegedly killed in like manner last year. The current killing must serve as a trigger to start a diplomatic row with South Africa if necessary, if the authorities there do not take serious steps to bring the brutish police officer to book.
South Africa has so many citizens living in Nigeria and there are over a hundred thriving companies and businesses of South African origin. Nigeria and Nigerians have provided them accommodation, peaceful environment to compete and thrive. This is not to mention the historic roles played by Nigerians during South Africa’s struggles against apartheid.
Nigerians deserve better treatment from South Africans. We expect the Federal Government to ensure that even as it works harder to make Nigeria more conducive for Nigerians to live and thrive.When this is done, fewer Nigerians would be desperate to travel out in search of greener pasture.