Are South Africans working in Nigeria at risk?

Nigerian students have warned SA companies to leave the country.

Young students Nigeria have been protesting against South African corporations within their borders, demanding that they vacate the country. This has been in response to perceived xenophobic attacks on West Africans residing in South Africa and could have implications for South African employees of working in Nigeria. The Daily Maverick reports that the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has already caused shutdowns at Shoprite in Ogun state and at MTN Nigeria’s Kaduna offices. Most recently, students in the Adamawa state capital, Yola, marched through the town holding placards with inscriptions condemning xenophobia and blocked Stanbic Bank - a division of Standard Bank - for several hours.

Minister in the Department of international relations and cooperation  Naledi Pandor, held a media briefing this weekend in which she expressed concerns around regarding statements emanating from the student organisation. 

Said Pandor in a statement: “The protests are said to be in response to alleged killings of Nigerians by South Africans. As you are aware, these allegations are devoid of truth, reckless and unwarranted.

“We find these statements most unfortunate as they don't reflect the strong relations that exist between the people and the Government of South Africa and Nigeria. The two countries enjoy strong bilateral relations, which were forged over many years during our struggle for liberation in South Africa and in this democratic era, fully supported by the people and Government of Nigeria.”

Nevertheless, as has often been seen on South Africa shores, protests can quickly turn violent. This should be of concern to the business leaders of the  120 or so South African businesses operating in Nigeria, with the largest among them being MTN, Shoprite, MultiChoice, South African Airways and Game.

This as the South African Police Services has, in recent weeks, intensified raids of undocumented foreign nationals, as well as the fight on drugs in and around Johannesburg. This has been misconstrued in some quarters as specific attacks aimed at Nigerians.

Nigeria is home to about 120 South African companies, including MTN, Shoprite, MultiChoice, South African Airways and Game.