Anger in Nigeria as South Africa xenophobic attacks spark looting

Anti-foreigner attacks in Johannesburg has triggered violence and widespread looting of South African-owned brands in Nigeria.

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Looters make off with goods from a store in Germiston, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. Police had earlier fired rubber bullets as they struggled to stop looters who targeted businesses as unrest broke out in several spots in and around the city. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Protesters set fire to many entrances leading into a busy mall housing South African retail store Shoprite and looted groceries and toiletries from the supermarket in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial center.

Another outlet belonging the chain and one owned by South African mobile company MTN were vandalized in Ibadan city in southwest Nigeria on Tuesday despite appeals from the government for peace.

Many other stores owned by Nigerians were also plundered in the raids.

The Nigerian arm of MTN, Africa’s largest telecoms company, closed all its stores until further notice after some of its outlets were targeted, the company said.

On Wednesday, police fired teargas to disperse a horde of rioters gathered outside many South African-owned outlets in Surulere, a bustling district in Lagos.

Diplomatic backlash

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said it was “deeply disturbing” reports that some Nigerians were attacking South African companies where Nigerian investors own significant stakes and employ mostly Nigerians.

Mohammed described it as “a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.”He added that President Buhari had dispatched a special envoy to convey his concerns to the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nigeria has pulled out of the ongoing World Economic Forum in Cape Town and also plans to recall its ambassador to South Africa in protest against the attacks, the country’s foreign minister told reporters on Wednesday.

While Nigerian music stars Burna Boy and singer Tiwa Savage have also weighed in with similar boycotts.

Savage said she would no longer be performing at an upcoming concert in late September. She said the xenophobic violence provoked the decision.Burna Boy said he had not visited South Africa since 2017 after a “xenophobic experience.” He vowed not to return until the government “wakes the f*** up and really performs a miracle.”

Angry mobs

South Africa is facing criticism over a fresh wave of violence against African immigrants and foreign-owned businesses.Angry mobs looted, burned and vandalized shops, properties, and vehicles, after violence flared on Sunday. South Africa police say five people were killed and 189 people allegedly involved in the violence have been arrested. Many foreign-owned stores were targeted in the violence.

Demonstrators forced hundreds of foreigners from their homes and looted some businesses in Durban in April.

They claimed that foreigners had taken jobs that should have been filled by locals.In 2017, violent anti-immigrant protests broke out in the capital Pretoria and in 2015, several people were killed, and thousands fled after xenophobic attacks across the country.

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry on Wednesday said rioters destroyed some businesses owned by its citizens in South Africa in the latest attacks which began in Jeppestown, a neighborhood in Johannesburg, but has quickly spread to other areas.

Students in Zambia demonstrated in front of a South African owned Pick N Pay store on Tuesday in protest against the attacks.Zambia’s transport ministry has also warned truck drivers against traveling to South Africa until security issues have been resolved.South African President Cyril Ramaphosa warned Tuesday that the spate of attacks could trigger violence against its citizens abroad.

“The attacks on people who run businesses from foreign nationals is totally unacceptable,” Ramaphosa said.

“There can be no justification whatsoever about what people are having a grievance over that they should go out and attack people from other countries because when they do so here, they should also know that fellow South Africans will be attacked in other countries,” the President said.

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