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Yes, South African foreign minister said ‘many Nigerians in South Africa are dealing drugs’

As xenophobic violence against foreigners rocked Gauteng province in early September 2019, a Facebook post claimed South African international relations minister Naledi Pandor had said many of the Nigerians living in the country were drug dealers.

“In her recent interview with eNCA on recent the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Naledi Pandor, had said Nigerians in the country are the ones who mostly deal in drugs and harm its citizens,” the post reads.

It then quotes Pandor as saying: “Help us address the belief and the reality that our people have that there are many persons from Nigeria, who are dealing in drugs in our country, who are harming our young people by making drugs easily available to them.”

The post was tagged as possibly false by Facebook’s fact-checking system.

Did Pandor make these accusations? We investigated.

Interview on South African broadcaster

According to the Cable, a Nigerian news site, Pandor made the remarks in an interview with South African TV channel eNCA on 5 September.

A video of the interview can be seen on the eNCA website, as well on YouTube and MSN News.

In the video, Pandor says she had to reject an offer from Nigeria’s foreign affairs department that their security forces come and work alongside the South African police to combat xenophobia.

She then says: “I would appreciate them in helping us as well to address the belief our people have – and the reality – that there are many persons from Nigeria who are dealing in drugs in our country, who are harming our young people by making drugs easily available to them.”

Pandor adds that there is “a belief that Nigerian nationals are involved in human trafficking and other abusive practices”.

These kind of assistance, of ensuring that such persons do not come to our country, would be of great assistance to our nation.”

‘Outrageous stigmatisation’

So yes, Pandor did say it was a “reality” that many Nigerians living in South Africa were dealing in drugs. The context was that she believed the Nigerian authorities could help by preventing drug dealers from emigrating from their country to South Africa.

On 6 September Vanguard newspaper reported that Nigeria's foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama had condemned “outrageous stigmatisation of a people from senior government officials that fuel xenophobia and embolden criminals”. – Butchie Seroto


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