Answering questions while addressing journalists in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, Ramaphosa said "There have been a number of incidents in our country where foreign nationals, some of whom are Nigerians, have lost their lives and I would like to say here and now that has been as a result of criminal activity among our own people, which we are focusing on."
Ramaphosa was meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, as part of a charm offensive to improve often tense relations between Africa's power houses.
Ramaphosa said he had wanted Buhari to be his first guest after taking office in February but when it did not happen, he planned his first foreign bilateral meeting outside of the Southern African Development Community to be with Buhari.
"We had a wonderful exchange and we both got a sense that we are opening a new page in the relationship between SA and Nigeria and this new page gives us opportunity to go beyond where we have been before in a number of areas," he said.
Despite high trade volumes between the two countries, there is a negative sentiment against South Africa in Nigeria, with local news dominated by attacks against Nigerians living in South Africa.
Reports have it that 117 Nigerians were extra-judicially killed in South Africa between 2013 and 2018, a figure dismissed by the South African government.
Ramaphosa blamed the "pervasive crime" in South Africa on high unemployment rates, poverty and inequality.
He said South Africans bore the brunt of the high levels of crime.