Mobs loot Shoprite, other stores in Lagos in violent anti-South Africa protests

Mobs looted several stores, owned by South Africans and Nigerians, across Lagos

Police officers stand guard outside Shoprite in Jakande, Lagos to deter protesters on Tuesday, September 3, 2019 [Twitter@CallHimDammy]

South African mobs had launched attacks on foreigners, including Nigerians, and looted and burnt their places of business in suburbs of Johannesburg and surrounding areas on Sunday, September 1, 2019, and Monday, September 2.

The attacks have angered many Nigerians who have called for a boycott of South African businesses, like Shoprite, operating in Nigeria.

The Shoprite store in Novare Mall, Sangotedo was looted by dozens of people late on Tuesday, September 3.

Many Nigerians were caught on video fleeing the store with several items stolen.

Other stores in the mall, including those owned by Nigerians, were similarly looted with items estimated to run into millions carted away.

A similar scenario played out at the Adeniran Ogunsanya shopping mall in Surulere where police officers struggled to control a mob that vandalised locked stores and stole valuables.

The store belonging to PEP, a South African-owned clothing and accessories dealer, in the area was also vandalised and looted by another mob. 

Two MTN stores, another South African-owned business, were also vandalised in Surulere.

Earlier in the day a mob showed up at a Shoprite outlet in the Jakande area of Lagos around 4 pm to shut down the store.

An unidentified man was gunned by police officers who struggled to contain the crowd and shot tear gas canisters and live bullets at them.

The protesters, some of them hoodlums popularly called Area Boys, continued to cause trouble and robbed motorists and passers-by on the Lekki-Epe Expressway.

A Police vehicle was also burnt by the protesters before soldiers were dispatched to the scene to restore order.

The Lagos State government has condemned the attacks as against the "Nigerian spirit of accommodation and benevolence".

The government said security agencies have been directed to ensure that law and order prevail in all parts of the state.

"The federal government is in dialogue with South African Authorities to stop this obnoxious act. We appeal to our compatriots to eschew violence and any unlawful acts.

"The Lagos State Government wishes to reiterate its commitment to providing a conducive atmosphere where businesses are conducted without hindrances," the statement read.

In a statement by Shoprite Nigeria, the retail franchise said it's 'highly concerned' by acts of violence against foreign nationals that sporadically flare up in South Africa and the resultant rhetoric of intolerance that is now being levelled against South Africans living in Nigeria. 

"As a company with deep African roots who employs thousands of African nationals and most importantly works to bring low prices to 14 countries outside of South Africa, we would like to see an end to xenophobia across the continent.

"Shoprite appeals to the general public of South Africa and Nigeria to protect the human dignity and safety of all people living in both countries," the statement read.

Shoprite said it remains committed to working with relevant groups to ensure decisive action is taken against those involved in violent crimes and intimidation against foreign nationals.

Nigerians have battled xenophobic attacks in South Africa for years, with at least 127 believed to have been killed over the past three years.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) disclosed on Tuesday that five people were killed in the recent spate of violence, although their nationalities were not revealed.

A total of 189 arrests have also been effected since Sunday for criminal acts including public violence, malicious damage to property, and theft. 

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the attacks and called for unity. 

"The people of our country want to live in harmony; whatever concerns or grievances we may have, we need to handle them in a democratic way. 

"There can be no justification for any South African to attack people from other countries," he said.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a special envoy to South Africa to express his displeasure with the fresh attacks.

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