Thousands of University of Zambia (UNZA) students yesterday protested against xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa, attacking Mzansi-owned shops at East Park and Mandahill.

This brought business to a stand still at most shopping malls in Lusaka as store owners opted to close their shops for fear of looting.

The protests began around 09:00 hours when UNZA students stormed East Park Mall, which is located within the university premises, and raided PicknPay and other shops, destroying property along the way.

They chanted anti xenophobia slogans, saying it was unacceptable for South Africans to be killing fellow Africans in such an inhumane manner.

Under police guard, the students then marched from East Park Mall to Mandahill where they attempted to storm Shoprite but managers had already closed the doors.

They then proceeded to the South African High Commission in Kabulonga where they wanted to deliver a petition against the xenophobic attacks in that country but police blocked them from proceeding.

The students got agitated and defaced a South African High Commission billboard before setting it on fire by burning a tire and one of the trolleys they had obtained from one of the malls, beneath it.

This prompted police to fire some tear gas canisters to disperse them.

Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo later arrived at the scene and ordered police to transport all the students back to the campus using a police truck. Once back on campus, Lusambo addressed thousands of UNZA students who had gathered around the monk square and urged them to remain calm.

A few minutes later, National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA) and Evelyn Hone College students also arrived at the High Commission with the same agenda to deliver a petition but they were also blocked by police officers.

By press time, police were still keeping vigil of the High Commission premises.

And a random check at Novare Pinacle, East Park, Cross Roads, Manda Hill, and Kabulonga Malls found all the entrance and exit gates locked.

Meanwhile, UNZA caretaker committee chairperson Namucana Musiwa regretted the demonstrations by its students.

“The University of Zambia has noted with regret the recent spate of student demonstrations attributed to acts of Xenophobia recorded in the Republic of South Africa. University Council and Management condemns the mode of action taken by its students in their attempt to express their dissatisfaction with the current developments in South Africa. University Council and Management wishes to encourage its students to abide by the national guidance from His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu who, in his press Statement issued on 4th September, 2019 has directed that we all show class and exemplary behaviour,” stated Namuchana in a press release.

Meanwhile, Multichoice and Hungry Lion Zambia issued separate statements condemning xenophobia in South Africa, saying they hoped South African authorities would contain the situation before it degenerated any further.