Sep 3, 2019

South Africa's president condemns xenophobic riots in Johannesburg

A foreign shop owner checks the damages to his looted shop in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tueaday.

A foreign shop owner checks the damages to his looted store in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Monday. Photo: Michele Spatari/AFP/Getty Images

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday condemned recent attacks on foreign-owned businesses in the country, after rioters this week looted and destroyed more than 50 shops owned by people from other African countries

Why it matters: The riots occurred days before South Africa is slated to host political and business leaders from across the continent in Cape Town for the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa, beginning Sept. 4. "There can be no justification for any South African to attack people from other countries," Ramaphosa said in a statement.

  • Police arrested at least 189 people in Johannesburg on Sept. 2, according to the New York Times. At least 5 died in the riots.

Context: A rising sense of hostility toward foreigners has been the source of similar xenophobic attacks this year. Many South Africans blame foreigners for the country's unemployment rate, which the BBC reports is nearly 28%. In 2008, xenophobic rioters killed at least 60 people and forced 50,000 from their homes, per Bloomberg.

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