SWITZERLAND, SEPTEMBER 6 -Both countries step up security as deadly attacks on foreign-owned stores in Johannesburg spark reprisals against South African businesses in Nigerian cities.
South Africa and Nigeria stepped up security on Wednesday after deadly attacks on foreign-owned stores in Johannesburg triggered reprisals against South African businesses in Nigerian cities.
Despite a downturn in violence, tensions rose on the diplomatic front, as Nigeria declared it would boycott a top business forum and South Africa’s neighbours urged Pretoria to clamp down on xenophobia.
The death toll rose to seven after two charred bodies were found in a store in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township, police said. Nearly 300 people have been arrested.
The centre of Johannesburg and Alexandra remained calm, however, as police boosted patrols following two days of looting, AFP reporters saw.
“It’s the first time this happened,” said Ashi Ashfaq, a Pakistani, who lost three of his six shops to arson.
“Before it happened, they weren’t burning the shop, just stealing. When they burn the shop you lose everything.”
He added: “[Before] they were maybe stealing little things, and that was better.”
Also on Wednesday, Nigeria said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will boycott the World Economic Forum’s Africa summit in South Africa over riots in the host country, Nigeria’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.
“Clearly with this climate, he and Mr President have agreed that he should not go,” Foreign Minister Onyeama told a news briefing.
Shops cautiously reopened again as some residents sifted around in wrecked stores, rummaging for food and anything usable.
President Cyril Ramaphosa reiterated his condemnation of the violence, but acknowledged: “We face a huge challenge.”
“A number of people [are] taking the law into their own hands,” he said in Cape Town, ahead of a three-day meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) due to be attended by more than a dozen African leaders.
“Taking action against people of other countries is not right,” he said. “South Africa is home for all. We are not the only country that has become home for people fleeing.”