Stars boycott South Africa over xenophobic attacks

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Media caption,

Businesses have been destroyed in the attacks

Africans have come out to boycott South Africa after days of looting and violence targeting foreigners in which five people died.

Nigerian singers and Zambia's football team are among those in the boycott.

South Africa's social development minister told the BBC the rioters feared losing their jobs to foreigners.

The country has become a magnet for migrants from other parts of Africa. It has one of the continent's biggest and most developed economies.

Who has boycotted South Africa?

Nigerian Afrobeats star Burna Boy vowed to never go to South Africa again until the government "wakes up".

He tweeted that he himself had had his own "xenophobic experiences at the hands of South Africans " in 2017.

Another Nigerian singer, Tiwa Savage, announced on Twitter she was pulling out of a concert she had planned to perform at in South Africa in September, condemning "the barbaric butchering of my people".

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

It is not clear whether any Nigerians have died in the violence but the singer later clarified that "my people" could be any African person.

The Nigerian government has also boycotted the World Economic Forum meeting in Cape Town. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was originally expected to attend the regional meeting between business leaders and governments.

And the country has issued a travel warning to its citizens, tweets Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's assistant.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Zambia's football association has cancelled an international friendly match against South Africa scheduled to take place on Saturday in the capital, Lusaka.

"This is because of the security concerns, you never know what can happen," Football Association of Zambia secretary general Adrian Kashala, told AFP news agency. "We want to be sure of the security of [the] visiting team," he added.

Anger across the continent

By Milton Nkosi, BBC News

Authorities, such as the police and some politicians, were reluctant to call these latest attacks xenophobic. They instead referred to the looting and torching of businesses as acts of criminality. Some observers say that this is because they are embarrassed.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, however, did come out to condemn the attacks and insisted that "South Africa is home to all". His comments did not help quell the anger across the continent.

Videos subsequently emerged of retaliatory attacks against South African businesses across Africa.

Police fired tear gas at angry protesters at a branch of the South African-owned supermarket Shoprite in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Meanwhile, the South African mobile phone company MTN said it was closing all of its shops in Nigeria after attacks.

What are the boycotters angry about?

They are angry about South Africans attacking other Africans living in the country.

Since Monday, mobs have been looting shops and torching trucks driven by foreigners in various parts of South Africa.

Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades in an attempt to stop the looting.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
A group of South African men gathered in Johannesburg for a second night of anti-foreigner rioting on Tuesday

Police say five people have been killed. They say two of those killed were South African and one was identified. They did not give the nationalities of the other two.

At least 189 people have been arrested.

What sparked the riots?

Some say foreigners are blamed for taking people's jobs, others say they are blamed for pushing drugs.

The attacks on foreign stores began a day after South African truckers started a nationwide strike on Sunday to protest against the employment of foreign drivers. They blocked roads and torched foreign-driven vehicles mainly in the south-western KwaZulu-Natal province.

It comes at a time of high unemployment and some South Africans blame foreigners for taking their jobs.

The unemployment rate in South Africa is nearly 28%, the highest since the labour force survey was introduced 11 years ago.

The government minister responsible for small business development told BBC Newsday that the rioters "feel there are other Africans coming into the country and they feel these Africans are taking our jobs".

Lindiwe Zulu said the problems were caused by the movement of people across Africa.

"We are facing a challenge that is beyond South Africa as a country. This is an African problem", she said.

But others say drug-dealing blamed on foreigners sparked off these riots.

A taxi driver was allegedly shot dead in Pretoria last week when he confronted foreign nationals thought to be selling drugs to young people, reports South Africa's News 24.

Has violence against foreigners happened before?


South Africa experienced its worst outbreak of violence against foreigners in 2008, when more than 60 people died.

In 2015 unrest in the cities of Johannesburg and Durban claimed seven lives as immigrants were hunted down and attacked by gangs. Attacks became so bad that a sports field south of Durban was made into a makeshift refugee camp for Africans escaping the violent looters.

Media caption,

Several people have been killed in attacks on migrants in South Africa, as Milton Nkosi reports

And then in March this year, three people died after about 100 people attacked mostly foreign-owned small food shops in Durban.