You Don’t Bang Against The Colonizers Like That: Nigeria Warns South Africa Over Xenophobic Violence

Written by Staff
Xenophobic violence
A protester picks up stones in downtown Johannesburg, Monday Sept. 2, 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)

Nigerians are protesting and speaking out against xenophobic violence in South Africa after the latest round of attacks claimed the lives of five people and caused destruction of businesses.

South African authorities on Monday arrested dozens of people for looting foreign-owned shops and burning buildings and vehicles. South African truck drivers blocked roads and threatened violence this week against foreign counterparts.

Immigrants are often blamed for South Africa’s 29 percent-plus unemployment rate.

Most immigrants come to South Africa from Zimbabwe but large communities of Nigerian merchants run small businesses in many cities, Financial Times reported. They are sometimes stereotyped as criminals and are often targeted in attacks.

Likewise, South African businesses operate in Nigeria including MTN, Shoprite, PEP stores and Multichoice DSTv.

On Tuesday, angry Nigerians protested outside South African stores in Lagos. An MTN cell phone tower was set on fire in Abuja.

MTN Nigeria announced that it will close all stores and service centers in the country until further notice after stores in three cities were attacked, Reuters reported.

Using the hashtag #SayNoToXenophobia, some on social media have asked why perpetrators are attacking their African “brothers and sisters.”

The Nigerian government threatened “definitive” action to protect its citizens in South Africa as tensions rise between Africa’s two largest economies.

“The continuing attacks on Nigerian nationals and businesses in South Africa are unacceptable,” the Nigerian government said in a statement.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, xenophobic violence has been a longstanding feature in post-apartheid South Africa, according to a recent report by the African Center for Migration & Society, New York Times reported.

South Africa’s townships have seen previous outbreaks of xenophobic violence that claimed lives in 2008 and 2015. Nigeria recalled its ambassador in response.

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Five people – most of them South Africans – died in the xenophobic violence in South Africa and 189 people were arrested according to the Globe Post. President Cyril Ramaphosa promised to intervene.

Scores of people – some armed with axes and machetes – gathered in Johannesburg’s central business district for a third day of unrest directed against foreigners, hours after mobs burned and looted shops in the township of Alexandra, prompting police to fire rubber bullets to disperse them.

The Globe Post

Protests against the latest round of South African xenophobic violence spread to Zambia. At least three malls were shut down and there were reports of looting, BBC reported.

On Wednesday, Jean Kamau, Kenya’s high commissioner to South Africa, confirmed that Kenyans were among South African victims of arson and looting.

Nigerian singer-songwriter Tiwa Savage says she is pulling out of a concert in South Africa later in September because of the anti-foreigner violence in the country.