One killed, five injured as South Africans resume xenophobic protests

South Africa on map
South Africa on map

At least one fatality has been recorded and five people receiving treatment at the hospital after a xenophobic march in South Africa turned violent on Sunday, local media reported.

The violence broke out on Sunday afternoon when hostel residents across the commercial hub of Johannesburg took to the streets to demand immediate deportation of foreigners, eNCA television reported.

The private broadcaster cited the police as confirming one person had been killed and five hospitalised. The deceased was reportedly stabbed to death.

It was not immediately clear whether the deceased was a South African or a foreigner. The identities of those injured had also not been fully learnt as of Sunday evening.

The police said they intervened early enough to prevent South African xenophobic marchers and foreigners from clashing at the heart of Johannesburg.

Images seen on social media Sunday evening appeared to show fresh destruction of properties and businesses of foreigners from other African countries in the central business area of Johannesburg.

The protest could spark another week of diplomatic hostilities between Nigeria and South Africa. A similar protest and destruction of properties last weekend sparked reprisal attacks in some African countries.

In Nigeria, between Tuesday and Wednesday, several businesses affiliated to South Africa or perceived to be were targeted. Some of them were burnt while some others were looted and then burnt in Lagos, Ibadan and Uyo.

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Early deployment of police officers helped prevent a major shopping mall from being attacked in Abuja on Wednesday morning. The facade of a massive billboard rolling MTN adverts was, however, shredded in the capital city.

South African embassies in Zambia and the Congo were reportedly attacked by citizens of the two countries protesting against xenophobic attacks on their fellow citizens in South Africa.

The crisis also compelled some African countries, including Nigeria, to withdraw participation at the World Economic Forum for Africa in Cape Town. The countries, however, opened channels for talks over the matter.

The renewed protests on Sunday could complicate ongoing dialogue over the crisis and cast renewed doubts over South African political leadership’s capacity to contain the riots.

The Nigerian government dispatched a special envoy to Pretoria on Thursday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had called for an end to attacks and ordered a crackdown on those fomenting xenophobic violence across the country.

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Local media said 16 suspects were taken into custody in connection with Sunday’s attack. That figure was in addition to nearly 200 suspects the police said were arrested across South Africa between September 1 and 3.

Mustapha Lawal, the permanent secretary for Nigeria’s foreign affairs ministry, did not immediately return requests for comments from PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday night.

However, Nigeria’s Consul General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama, told the News Agency of Nigeria that about 400 Nigerians had indicated interest to return home after a domestic airline, Air Peace, offered to bring back Nigerians from South Africa.

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