SA/Nigeria diplomatic ties under strain

Nigeria recalled High Commissioner Martin Cobham to consult Nigeria on xenophobia in South Africa.

The Union Buildings in Pretoria. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said it was surprised that Nigeria recalled its high commissioner especially after the South Africa cooperated during the church collapse last year.

The Nigerian senate called for Martin Cobham to return to Nigeria to consult the National Assembly on the situation in South Africa following the recent attacks on foreigners.

Nigeria is the only embassy to the department's knowledge that has made efforts to sever ties with South Africa.

Dirco said South Africa did not recall officials after 84 South Africans died in the church collapse or during the nine months it took for Nigeria to repatriate their bodies.

The department's Clayson Monyela said the relations between the South Africa and Nigeria has always been sisterly and cooperative.

"This action is based on the incidents of attacks on foreign nationals in some parts of our country. It would be very curious for a sisterly country to exploit such a painful episode for whatever agenda."

He says after the South Africa made every effort to quell and condemn the attacks on foreigners.

"Our government has taken several steps to deal with what's been going on in our country. Ordinary South Africans have also been very decisive and unequivocal in expressing their resentment in attacks on foreign nationals."

Despite this, Dirco said it will continue its peaceful relations with Nigeria and supports their efforts against Boko Haram.