A Ugandan man on a mission of revenge against his father has been accused of setting ablaze the workshop of Nigerian nationals involved in automobile dealings in Pretoria, South Africa.
Habib Miller, the National Publicity Secretary, Nigeria Union South Africa (NUSA) who confirmed the incident in a statement on Saturday, September 9, 2023, said nine cars and vehicle parts worth a million, five hundred and fifty thousand rands (R1,550,000.00) were damaged in the fire.
“The incident occurred on the 5th day of September 2023, on Vom Hagen Street in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa. Mr. Owolabi Gbadamosi, an affected associate of the business, narrated that he was called around 7 p.m. on the fateful day,” Miller stated.
Gbadamosi and his colleagues had knocked off from work earlier that day around 6 p.m. and left for their various homes in the Province. When they got a call informing them about a fire at their business unit, they assumed it was the occasional transformer explosion that occurred within the vicinity, which often happens when thieves try to steal cables from the substation. Such blasts did not cause any significant damage to their shop.
However, when they got close to the location, they saw flames that gave them a heads-up of something serious. When the partners individually arrived at the business property, the fire service was already at the scene trying to douse the inferno.
Mr. Tunji Balogun, a business partner affected by the incident, recounted how he tried to save some of the vehicles during the extinguishing. But was advised against taking such hazardous action by the fire brigade.
Before the arson was perpetrated on the property, a Ugandan national, who was subletting part of the location in question was having a conflict with his son.
The East African man had been operating an automobile spare part business on the property for 7 years. Sometime last year, he established the same type of business in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, and handed over the motor vehicle components business in Vom Hagen Street to his son.
According to eyewitnesses, this was because the Atteridgeville location was generating satisfactory net income.
His son then secured a loan from his girlfriend and began the operation which became somewhat successful. In a new twist, a month ago, the son of the Ugandan man carried out a twelve thousand rand (R12,000.00) transaction via his father’s bank account. This was as a result of his inability to set one up for himself due to documentation challenges.
His father however, only remitted half of the money to him, and this infuriated him. The son questioned his father’s handling of the situation, asking how he is expected to make progress if he is not allowed to reinvest money made back into the enterprise.
Unable to resolve their dispute, the father decided to reclaim the business from his son, taking advantage of possessing all the legal documents related to the business.
When his son would not vacate the building after being verbally informed, the father decided to obtain a court order restricting his offspring from his and the surrounding businesses.
Weeks before the son was alleged to have burned the workplace, things got so heated that he attempted to stab his father but was restricted by mediators. The son then threatened that it was not the last time the father would hear from him about the matter.
When the business location was set ablaze, the father could be heard continuously lamenting that the fire-raising was perpetrated by his son. It appears the major target of the arsonist was the portion of his father’s business on the property, nevertheless, it escalated to Mr. Owolabi and Co.’s businesses.
Nigerian Union South Africa (NUSA) representatives, led by the Acting President, Mrs. Doris-Ikeri Solarin, have paid a courtesy visit to the scene and sympathized with the compatriots affected.
Also present for the visit were Mr. Trust Owoyele (National Treasurer), Mr. Yomi Awosemo (National Assistant Welfare Officer), and Mr. Olaniyi Abodedele (The Voice, NUSA Gauteng Chairman).
Prior to the visit, the Union had informed Mr. Christopher Oguri, who is in charge of Consular matters at the Consulate General of Nigeria in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“The goal is to exhaust every possibility within the laws of South Africa to see if our citizens can get some compensation that will bring some level of succor to them.
“The suspected arsonist is still at large and a case docket has been opened at a Police Station.” he said