South African retailers caught up in xenophobic backlash

A number of Shoprite and Pick n’ Pay outlets were among the South African businesses targeted by looters in Nigeria and Zambia during early September. Mobile communications provider MTN and clothing chain Pepkor were also affected.

These attacks were triggered by xenophobic attacks on foreigners and foreign-owned businesses in Johannesburg that resulted at in least in five deaths, the destruction of more than 50 shops and business premises (mainly owned by immigrants from other African countries), and almost 200 arrests.

“Several stores in South Africa, Nigeria and Zambia are today unable to open due to protest action, and extensive damage has been done to several supermarkets over the past 24 hours,” Shoprite said in a statement issued on September 4th. Pepkor also temporarily closed all of its outlets in Lagos and Lusaka.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said it was “deeply disturbing” that some Nigerians were attacking South African businesses that employ mostly Nigerians, adding that it was “a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

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