South Africa closed its embassy in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos following a wave of xenophobic attacks, signaling worsening diplomatic relations between the two African countries. The violence broke out in reprisal for a wave of attacks at the weekend against foreign African nationals in South Africa's Gauteng province.
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. Nigeria announced plans to evacuate its nationals in South Africa on Wednesday after xenophobic violence. The Nigerian Foreign Ministry said a commercial airline offered to send an aircraft today to evacuate nationals "free of charge" who were willing to return.
South Africa's government acknowledged yesterday 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 (WEF) 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.