South Africa Amidst Xenophobic Violence Ahead of World Economic Forum

On Monday, the streets of the Capital City of South Africa, Cape Town, turned into a home of violence and destruction. The riots shook the city and also drew criticism from other African nations. Termed as xenophobic outbreak, the spate has come at a time when political and business leaders from at least 28 countries are to gather in Cape Town for African World Economic Forum.

Erupting on the outskirts of the south of Johannesburg’s city center on Sunday, the menacing wave of vandalism also spread to the central business district by Monday. The ferocity, thus, led to disfigurement of more than 50 foreign-owned shops and business premises. Consequently, numerous cars and properties were lit, and widespread looting also took place.

Coming ahead of the commemoration of the African edition of the World Economic Forum – due to be held on September 4 – and before a state visit to South Africa by President Muhammadu Bihari of Nigeria, whose nationals were most affected; could also lead to diplomatic disparities between the two nations.

“The continuing attacks on Nigerian nationals and businesses in South Africa are unacceptable,” the government of Nigeria said on Twitter. “Enough is enough. Nigeria will take definitive measures to ensure safety and protection of her citizens,” the statement added.

The spree of attacks on Monday wasn’t the first incident recorded on African nationals. In 2008, about 60 people were killed and more than 50,000 had to flee from their homes. In 2015, similar attacks led to seven deaths in the nation. The bigger picture of the problem, which is linked with migration, is often seen as a hindrance for less number of jobs and services in the nation.

Apart from Nigerian government, Zambia also warned its truck drivers, many of whom commute to South Africa, to not to travel to the port of Durban.

The violence is “unacceptable,” Ace Magashule, the secretary-general of the ANC, said in his remarks broadcasted on television. “We condemn this violence which is taking place, irrespective of whatever reasons people want to give,” he added.

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