5 September 2019
The Nigerian division of South African telecom operator MTN said
yesterday it will shut all stores and service centres in the country until
further notice after its facilities in three cities were attacked.
The facilities were attacked in retaliation after days of riots in South
Africa chiefly targeting foreign-owned, including Nigerian, businesses.
“The safety and security of our customers, staff and partners is our
primary concern,” MTN Nigeria said in a statement.
“MTN condemns any acts of violence, prejudice and xenophobia.”
The latest wave of unrest in South Africa has raised fears of a recurrence
of violence in 2015 aimed at foreigners and in which at least seven people
were killed. Before that, some 60 people were killed in a wave of unrest
around the country in 2008.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday he was urgently
sending a special envoy to meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa to secure
the “safety of (Nigerian citizens’) lives and property”.
Police have yet to pinpoint what triggered the violence, which began on
Sunday when protesters armed with makeshift weapons roamed the streets of
Pretoria’s business district, pelting shops with rocks and petrol bombs
and running off with goods.
Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market, with 58 million users in 2018 and
accounts for a third of the South African group’s core profit.