#NigeriansMustGo has been the top trending hashtag on Twitter in South Africa, in the latest sign of growing xenophobia against foreigners in the country.
This comes just days after a small protest was held outside the Nigerian High Commission in the capital, Pretoria, under the banner #PutSouthAfricansFirst.
Demonstrators accusing Nigerians of being responsible for human trafficking and drug dealing.
Nigeria’s High Commissioner Bala Kabiru said not all Nigerians in South Africa could be branded as criminals.
“We don’t accept the profiling of Nigerians in South Africa,” he was quoted by local as saying.
The latest hashtag has been partly fuelled by a report in local media that a police raid led to five Nigerians being arrested and charged with human trafficking after 11 women were found to be working as sex workers at brothels disguised as a bed-and-breakfast.
Last week, Digital Forensic Research Lab – which is made up of forensic researchers who track conflicts – said it had identified a dismissed lance corporal in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) as running a fake Twitter account used to fuel xenophobia. The former soldier has not commented.
Some South Africans accuse immigrants of taking the jobs of locals, and of being involved in crime.
Others say that most immigrants are law-abiding, and should not be blamed for South Africa’s economic and social problems.
During last week’s protest, Nigeria’s High Commissioner Bala Kabiru said: “We don’t accept the profiling of Nigerians in South Africa.”