As Hanna Tetteh Deflates Ghanaian-Xenophobic Deaths In South Africa
Attempt by the major opposition party to equalize the pressure put on the Kufuor administration, over the infamous Gambia killings, with the xenophobic attacks and daylight murders in South Africa, yesterday collapsed with the revelation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, that no Ghanaian, has lost his life in that country as claimed.
According to her, the Ghanaian national, Emmanuel Kwesi Quarcoo, whose body was found by the roadside with head injuries and was reportedly killed by the marauding unemployed South Africans, rather died of epilepsy and not from xenophobia attack as claimed by a section of the Ghanaian media.
Though the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said her outfit was yet to take delivery of the an autopsy report from South African pathologists, she disclosed that the information gathered so far says, the gentleman’s head injuries were from the epileptic seizures which resulted in his death.
Meanwhile, the four other Ghanaians, who were also found dead- a man, two ladies and a child- in a hairdressing salon at Heibron in the Free State Province, a town so far spared the bloody attacks, were said to have suffocated to death from fumes from their generator, which they had locked up in the salon.
The Gambia Killings of a number of Ghanaians, occurred under the Kufuor government with Nana Akufo-Addo, then a Foreign Minister, accused of failing in his role to protect Ghanaians abroad.
John Mahama, then a Member of Parliament (MP) for Bole-Bamboi in the Northern Region, and Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, together with Nana Oye Lithur of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, led a crusade against the Yahya Jammeh government to bring back the remains of the victims and pay reparation to the bereaved families.
This did not materialized, until the Mills administration came to office in 2009 and the then Vice-President, John Mahama, lead another effort which eventually got the mortal remains of the victims exhumed and brought to Ghana for state funeral and burial. Compensations were also paid to the affected families.
The commitment and success of the effort, led by then Vice President, exposed the failures of the Kufuor government and in particular, Nana Akufo-Addo, who had been hyped up as the most successful Foreign Minister in the history of this country.
In what appears to be a desperate attempt to payback the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, Nana Addo, issued a scathing statement taking a swipe at the John Mahama government, claiming it has failed in its handling of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, as far as Ghanaians are concerned.
According to the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the response of the John Mahama-led administration is “meek” and “lackadaisical” and that is worrying.
“Considering the serious nature of these events, our government was expected among other things, to unreservedly condemn these attacks and in concert with other African governments exert the necessary pressure on the South African authorities to act swiftly and decisively to end these barbaric and inhuman attacks on other Africans,” a statement signed by NPP general secretary Kwabena Agyepong, last Monday, said.
“Sadly, so far, the NDC government has shown a lackadaisical attitude which is manifest in its inability to communicate to Ghanaians, any measures it is putting in place to assist our Nationals in South Africa, neither have they outlined any contingency plans to evacuate them if necessary.
“Even more damning is the posture of the Foreign Minister, Hon. Hannah Tetteh, who blatantly refused to speak to a local radio station on the issue and arrogantly posited that she will only do so on Radio Gold, a known NDC radio station. Her conduct is as reprehensible as it is insensitive, especially in a matter involving people’s lives and emotions. The President should act decisively on her indiscretion,” the statement added.
It noted: “The NPP strongly urges the President to carry out his sworn obligation under the 1992 constitution to protect the life and safety of every Ghanaian, whether home or Abroad.
“The Party shares in the pain and suffering of the many Ghanaians, whose loved ones have been caught up in this unfortunate situation.”
But yesterday, the Foreign Minister, revealed that four officials of the National Security, have arrived in South Africa to ascertain the state of security, as far as Ghanaian migrants living in the rainbow nation are concerned.
Speaking in a joint interview with Citi Breakfast Show host, Bernard Avle and Radio Gold’s Alhassan Suhini, the Foreign Affairs Minister, acknowledged that although citizens’ back home need constant updates which she said has been ongoing, the individuals, who need it most are Ghanaians trapped in South Africa.
“As of yesterday (Monday), I can confirm that four national security officials have left Accra and are currently in South Africa to ascertain the state of security as far as our nationals are concerned,” foreign Affairs minister Hanna Tetteh told a section of the media on Tuesday.
Reports that five Ghanaians have been killed in the attacks, have also been refuted by the South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Lulama Xingwana.
Addressing a news conference in Accra on Monday, Xingwana, said the Ghanaian man who was found dead on the streets of Durban, the centre of the attacks on black Africans from other countries, died of an epileptic attack, according to an autopsy report.
Xingwana, also noted that four other Ghanaians–a man, two women and a baby–who were found dead in a salon at Heibron, did not die from xenophobic attacks.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hanna Tetteh, clarified that it is prudent for government to restrict information to its evacuation plans for Ghanaian citizens caught up in the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
Hanna Tetteh, however, indicated that making that information public could further endanger the lives of the affected Ghanaians if there are plans by some South African indigenes to hurt them.
“As far as our pick up and evacuation plans are concerned, we don’t think it’s a good idea to have that plastered all over social media…but it’s important that those key audiences who need it in South Africa should be the ones to who it is available,” he remarked.
The government has been criticized for failing to inform and update citizens on its evacuation plans for other Ghanaian nationals currently in South Africa.
She said: “We felt the important thing was to share that information with Ghanaians in South Africa because they are the ones whom we want and continue to desire to protect and to keep out of harm’s way.”
“We didn’t think that we will be serving necessarily a useful purpose if we broadcasted all that information because essentially, you are telling somebody who might have bad intentions of what you want to do and where you are going to do it…If indeed there is a desire or motivation to attack Ghanaians and you put out all that information out in the public domain, you are telling them exactly where to go,” she explained.
Efforts being made the sector minister mentioned that since the xenophobic attacks began about three weeks ago, the Ghana High Commission in South Africa has been in constant touch with the leadership of the various Ghanaian communities in that country.
Some Ghanaians in South Africa, she said have also been contacting her personally and their concerns and needs have been addressed by the Ghana Mission.
“We believe that having security professionals working with the Embassy and evaluating what we have done, the plans we have put in place, the actions we have taken will help our assessments and what step to take next,” she remarked.