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  • Crowds look at a burnt police truck as a solider walks out of the scene outside the Novare Shoprite Mall in Lekki, near Lagos, Nigeria.

    Crowds look at a burnt police truck as a solider walks out of the scene outside the Novare Shoprite Mall in Lekki, near Lagos, Nigeria. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 September 2019

"There is Afrophobia we are sensing that exists, there is resentment and we need to address that," said South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor.

South Africa temporarily closed down its embassy in Nigeria Thursday after cases of violent attacks against South African businesses came out which were the results of attacks on foreign-owned stores in Johannesburg. 

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"There is Afrophobia we are sensing that exists, there is resentment and we need to address that," said South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor. 

South Africa's government acknowledged Thursday that prejudice was partly to blame for deadly rioting that has targeted foreign businesses, as those attacks and reprisals overshadowed a continental economic conference for a second day.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had hoped the World Economic Forum conference in Cape Town would serve as a shop window for his efforts to revive South Africa's ailing economy and boost intra-African trade.

But the backdrop of violence has dominated proceedings, above all exposing dormant tensions between the host country and Nigeria, the continent's two biggest economies.

At least five Africans have been killed this week in attacks on foreigners in South Africa. On Wednesday local companies MTN, and Shoprite closed stores in Nigeria after retaliatory attacks, and threats of reprisals forced Pretoria to shut its embassy in Abuja, its foreign minister said.

Speaking in his place, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said most South Africans disapproved of the attacks on foreigners and the principle of freedom of movement for citizens of the continent was key.

But animosities were generating violence, and politicians were partly responsible for resolving that. "We have to go to our people politically to discuss what some of them are doing is wrong."

South African police, who have arrested hundreds in connection with the attacks, said they found two burnt bodies Thursday in the Gauteng township of Katlehong, one of the areas that have seen rioting. The incident could not be immediately linked to anti-immigrant violence, they said.

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