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Shoprite closes several stores in Nigeria, Zambia, South Africa over xenophobic attacks


South African-owned retail franchise, Shoprite, has had many of its supermarkets targeted by protesters over xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa (George Tubei)

Several stores of South African-owned Shoprite failed to open for business in three countries on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 as a result of protests against xenophobic attacks witnessed in South Africa in the past few days.

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.

This led to the vandalisation and looting of a Shoprite store in Lagos and several other stores, including those owned by Nigerians, late on Tuesday, September 3. One protester was gunned down by the Police.

The protests continued on Wednesday with protesters burning tyres on the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road in Lugbe, Abuja just metres away from a locked Shoprite store.
In a statement on Wednesday, September 4, the Shoprite Group said some of its stores in Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia could not open for business due to protests and extensive damage done to them over the past 24 hours.

The group condemned any kind of violence and intimidation against the citizens and businesses of countries on the African continent and anywhere in the world.

"The retailer is highly concerned about the acts of xenophobic violence against foreign nationals that sporadically flare up and the resultant rhetoric of intolerance that is levelled against foreigners and the platform this creates for criminals to exploit it.

"As a company with deep African roots who employs thousands of African nationals and works to bring affordable prices to consumers in 15 countries on the continent, we would like to see an end to xenophobia across the continent," Shoprite said.

The franchise said the destruction of its supermarkets affects the lives of millions of law abiding people, and expressed its commitment towards standing against xenophobia
"We remain committed to engage with Government, industry and consumer groups so that decisive action is taken against those involved in violent crimes and intimidation against foreign nationals as well as to convey our strong position against xenophobia," the group said.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday sent an unnamed special envoy to South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa to register his concerns over the attacks.

The Nigerian government has withdrawn its participation from the World Economic Forum (WEF) hosted by South Africa. The summit started on Wednesday.
Nigeria's Ambassador to South Africa, Kabiru Bala, has also been recalled to the country on Wednesday

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