The Nigerian division of South African telecom operator MTN said on Wednesday it will shut all stores and service centres in the country until further notice after its facilities in three cities were attacked.
“MTN condemns any acts of violence, prejudice and xenophobia. The safety and security of our customers, staff and partners is our primary concern,” MTN Nigeria said in a statement.
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.
MTN’s facilities were attacked in retaliation after days of riots in South Africa chiefly targeting foreign-owned, including Nigerian, businesses.
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.
South African grocer Shoprite Holdings said on Wednesday several stores in its home market, Nigeria and Zambia were closed and extensive damage had been done to several supermarkets over the past 24 hours.
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.