South Africa temporarily closed its embassy in Nigeria following violence against South African businesses in reprisal for attacks on foreign-owned stores in Johannesburg, while Nigeria announced plans to evacuate its nationals from South Africa.
South African Foreign Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor said on Thursday the embassy was closed temporarily after threats led to fears for staff safety.
“There is Afrophobia we are sensing that exists, there is resentment and we need to address that,” Pandor told Reuters news agency.
Foreign ministry spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele confirmed the diplomatic missions in the Nigerian cities of Lagos and Abuja have been closed since Wednesday.
The announcement, which signals worsening diplomatic relations between the two African countries, comes after Nigeria introduced plans to evacuate its nationals from South Africa following a wave of attacks on foreigners.
Due to the fear arising from attacks by Nigerian youths, the South Africa High Commission to Nigeria has shut down its offices and consulate.
The acting High Commissioner, Ambassador Bobby Moroe, confirmed the development to reporters on Thursday morning, saying that he had directed the Mission to suspend all consular activities until the situation improves.
The Ambassador explained that the reported attacks on South Africans in parts of Nigeria informed the decision to close down the Mission.
Moroe added, “I directed that the Mission should be closed until the situation improves. We heard that South Africans were being pulled out of vehicles and attacked. We feel unsafe and that is why I directed that the mission should close down until further notice.”