Xenophobic attacks in South Africa sparks riots in Nigeria and Zambia
Violence and looting have taken place in Nigeria and Zambia against South African-owned businesses, after a continuing series of xenophobic attacks and riots in Johannesburg.
The escalating dispute has seen Nigeria recall its ambassador to South Africa, as well as pull out of the World Economic Forum on Africa summit, currently being held in Cape Town.
Mobs gathered in several Nigerian cities to avenge deadly attacks on immigrant-owned premises in the townships of Johannesburg and Pretoria by looting South African supermarkets and vandalising mobile phone shops.
The perception that Nigerians have been the chief targets of vigilante gangs in the township has prompted a diplomatic crisis between South Africa and Nigeria, Africa’s chief economic powers.
The backlash began after a flare-up of xenophobic violence against immigrants and foreign businesses in South Africa.
Mobs looted and burned shops, homes and vehicles owned by foreigners. Five people were killed, and at least 189 people suspected of being involved in the violence have been arrested.
The riots against foreign businesses began a day after South African truck drivers started a nationwide strike, protesting against the employment of foreign drivers.
South Africa currently has an unemployment rate of 29%, meaning almost seven million people are out of work. In comparison, the UK has an unemployment rate of 3.9% – an estimated 1.3 million people.
Some South Africans have blamed foreign workers for the high levels of unemployment – and others claim they are pushing drugs into the country.