African press review 1 May 2015

Abuja gives Indonesia’s envoy a washing over the execution of four Nigerians for drug trafficking, an ex-Nigerian state governor’s aide bags 20 years in prison over a 112-million-euro scam and a leading South African academic warns xenophobia suspects of looming International Criminal Court indictment.


Leading South African academics have warned that the country’s prosecutors investigating the xenophobic attacks on African migrants need to act fast or see their jobs offloaded by the International Criminal Court (ICC). This is as the country’s leaders rallied to condemn the attacks that left at least six people killed and thousands displaced during the two-week rampage on foreign nationals.

Mail and Guardian newspaper gave its front-page column to leading law professor Christopher Gevers, lecturer in the school of law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He holds that the ongoing attacks on foreigners have led to calls for the prosecution of the individuals involved – from those carrying out these acts to others spurring them on.

According to Gevers, while South Africa’s prosecutors label the acts as common law crimes, the grammar of international law has been invoked to label them crimes against humanity. He warns that if the National Prosecuting Authority fails to dispense justice, the ICC will be able to step in and request the extradition of the alleged perpetrators of the xenophobic attacks, as South Africa is a party to the Rome Statute which created the ICC.

The column came in reaction to a complaint of hate speech filed at the ICC against King Goodwill Zwelithini by a Nigerian human rights organisation. A spokesperson for the Royal Zulu household said on Thursday that the monarch would not be drawn to comment on the complaint until they receive a call from the ICC.

The Johannesburg Star publishes another column by Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, South Africa’s minister for correctional services. She claims that the past few weeks have shown that the majority of South Africans stand for peace and rule of law.

“We live in a globally connected world where local actions can reverberate across the globe,” she argued. She concludes with a confession that has escaped the minds of many South Africans over the past weeks. “No country is an island and we are interconnected in more ways than one,” she said.

“Freedom in South Africa remains a dream for people who can’t even spell the word 21 years into democracy,” writes City Press in another editorial. The Johannesburg paper has a grim reminder of why South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority will face a hard time bringing the suspects to justice. It is a warning by senior ANC MP Mathole Motshekga against any investigation of King Zwelithini’s anti-foreigner speech by the Human Rights Commission. Such a probe, he threatened, could have “unintended consequences”.

In Nigeria, the hottest story carried by the papers is not Labour Day but the federal government’s summoning of Indonesia’s envoy to Abuja on Thursday over the execution of four Nigerians for drug trafficking.

Punch reports that the four men in their early 40s and 50s were executed by firing squad on Tuesday. The Indonesian ambassador Harry Purwanto told the foreign ministry official that the case against the four was held for 10 years to make sure adequate opportunity was given to the convicts within the limit of the law.

He later explained to reporters that his country was suffering from the harsh reality of drug trafficking with 4.5 million young Indonesians affected by narcotics and up to 50 victims of the drugs dying every month.

The press also takes up the heavy 20-year sentence handed down to an ex-aide of a former Ondo State governor. The Guardian Nigeria reports that the federal high court in Benin City found Patrick Eboigbedin guilty of money laundering, to the tune of 25 billion naira (112 million euros).

The Guardian also takes up the closure of 24 churches and some mosques in Lagos over noise pollution. The paper says that the places of worship had become a public nuisance in their neighbourhoods due to the blaring from loud speakers during day service and night vigils.

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