Mr Dambazau noted that besides the bad elements: "We have Nigerian professionals who are contributing positively to development of the economy of South Africa.’’

“However, that is not to say that they should fold their arms and not to do something about somebody involved in criminality.

“But in doing that, we emphasised that due process of the law should be taken in terms of the assumption of innocence, being proven guilty and in terms of fair hearing."

The minister promised to pursue a prisoners' exchange arrangement in due course.

“When we met with the Nigerian community, we also emphasised that those who are involved in criminal behaviour should not be allowed to spoil the good name of Nigeria.

“So they have that moral responsibility to report where necessary,” he said.

The South African government denied that the attacks were targeted at Nigerians alone, though security operatives alleged that many Nigerians were involved in numerous criminal acts.

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