SA ‘in communication’ with Nigeria over abducted girls


    15 May 2014

    The South African government is in constant communication with the Nigerian government as calls for the release of the abducted girls continue to spread, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Thursday.

    Speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria, the minister described the kidnapping of more than 200 girls by militant Islamic group Boko-Haram as “unfortunate, heinous and unprecedented”.

    “The South African government – first through [the Department of International Relations and Cooperation] and the statement made by the Presidency two days after their abduction – has come out unequivocally condemning this heinous act of using girl children as weapons of some mysterious action by these abductors,” the minister said.

    Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa joined the global community, firstly as an African country, to support of the efforts of the Nigerian government and its people.

    “We are in constant communication with the Nigerian government through our High Commission in Nigeria and also the Nigerian High Commission here in South Africa.

    “The responses we’ve been getting from the Nigerian government have been positive and we remain seized with the kind of support that the Nigerian government would be requesting from us.”

    Nkoana-Mashabane also welcomed the initiatives of civil society across the world as well as those by other governments to pressure the abductors to release the girls. “We welcome … equally our own [initiatives] in South Africa, particularly the students who have come out in support of the ‘bring back our girls campaign’.”

    South African learners support #BringBackOurGirls

    Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana, addressing about girl learners from Moletsane High School in Soweto on Wednesday, exactly a month since the girls were kidnapped from a school in Chibok in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno state, again called for the girls’ safe return.

    “We believe that this is a serious violation of the human rights of these girls and a crime against humanity. We are calling on the whole world to stand up and fight against this horrific incident,” the minister said.

    The minister urged South Africans to continue to stand in solidarity with the abducted school girls and their families and call for their immediate release by using every avenue and platform available to say #BringBackOurGirls.

    Learners at the school yesterday made a guard of honour and carried placards which called for the release of the Nigerian girls.

    “We call on those who have taken the girls to return them because when you touch kids, you’ve gone too far, especially when it’s kids trying to get an education,” said grade 12 learner Itumeleng Madidimalo (18).

    Boko Haram’s name translates to “Western education is a sin” in the local language. The group especially opposes the education of women. Under its version of Sharia law, women should be at home raising children and looking after their husbands, not at school learning to read and write.

    On Monday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau offered to release the girls in exchange for militants imprisoned by the Nigerian government.

    Meanwhile, a 30-member team from the US is in Nigeria to help with the search for the kidnapped girls. The US is also using satellite imagery and making reconnaissance flights over Nigeria. Britain has also sent experts to help with the search.