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Anger in Nigeria as South Africa xenophobic attacks spark looting

Looters make off with goods from a store in Germiston, Johannesburg on Tuesday.

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

Angry protesters also set fire to many entrances leading into a busy mall housing South African retail store Shoprite and looted groceries and toiletries from the supermarket.

On Wednesday, police fired teargas to disperse a horde of rioters outside a MultiChoice outlet in a bustling district in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial center.

The MultiChoice Group is a South Africa-owned video entertainment company and Africa’s biggest pay-TV firm.

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

MTN Nigeria also sent messages to its employees to work from home in view of the attacks some of its facilities.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed said Nigerian investors own significant stakes in South African companies operating in the country and the majority of their employees are also Nigerians.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has dispatched a Special Envoy to convey to his South African counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa, his concerns and also interact with his South African counterpart on the situation,” Mohammed said.

Nigerian music stars Burna Boy and singer Tiwa Savage have also weighed into what has escalated into a diplomatic row between both countries.

Savage canceled an upcoming performance in late September. She said the xenophobic violence provoked the decision.

“I refuse to watch the barbaric butchering of my people in SA. This is SICK. For this reason I will NOT be performing at the upcoming DSTV delicious Festival in Johannesburg on the 21st of September. My prayers are with all the victims and families affected by this,” she wrote on twitter.

While 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**k up and really performs a miracle.”

Diplomatic backlash

Looters make off with goods from a store in Germiston, Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Looters make off with goods from a store in Germiston, Johannesburg on Tuesday.

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 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.

Xenophobic and anti-immigrant attacks are not new in South Africa. 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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