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The Price of Anti-Immigrant Violence in South Africa

Mar 3, 2017 | 09:00 GMT
A crowd of Nigerians faces off with South Africans in Pretoria on Feb. 24 while a South African policeman (L) tries to calm them. Populism has taken root in the impoverished and unemployed segments of South African society.

A crowd of Nigerians faces off with South Africans in Pretoria on Feb. 24 while a South African policeman (L) tries to calm them. Populism has taken root in the impoverished and unemployed segments of South African society.

(MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

Relations between South Africa and Nigeria have been rocky over the past few years. Nigeria's government was troubled when Henry Okay, a former Niger Delta militant currently imprisoned in South African, appealed his conviction in late 2016. The year before, the West African country imposed a $3.9 billion fine on South African telecom giant MTN after the company failed to deactivate unregistered SIM cards in compliance with the Nigerian government's orders. In both instances, Nigeria and South Africa managed to settle their differences without jeopardizing their pragmatic relationship. But today they are facing another kind of problem. For the past month, incidents of violence against foreign Africans living in South Africa have been on the rise. On Feb. 27, police in Johannesburg stated that at least 100 attackers participated in a riot that destroyed numerous foreign-owned stores. A few days earlier, law enforcement officers in Pretoria resorted to tear gas, rubber...

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