Amid the ongoing xenophobic violence in South Africa which has resulted in several properties destroyed and stores looted, scores of foreign nationals have taken up offers to return home over safety concerns.
On Wednesday night, the first batch of 187 Nigerians, out of the 640 who opted to return home, landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. They arrived on an Air Peace Boeing 777 plane which departed the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, The Punch reports.
The flight, which was initially scheduled to bring 313 Nigerians home, was delayed by 8 hours due to some evacuees having incomplete travel documents.
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A second flight has, however, been arranged to go back to Johannesburg to evacuate those remaining, the chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission told BBC.
Many of the shops and properties that have so far been targeted in the attacks are said to be owned by foreign nationals, including Nigerians.
“My workshop is damaged, everything there is burned and I just had to had to run away for my life,” an evacuee told BBC on arrival.
In these waves of attacks, immigrants normally targeted are from Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and other neighbouring countries who are accused of taking all the jobs and engaging in criminal activities, such as drug trafficking and theft.
“I lost a car, I have the papers here, my car was one of the cars burnt,” another woman said. “With the whole situation, killing and looting shops and everything, I just decided: ‘No, it’s time to come back home.’”
Following an alarm sounded by the African Union and Nigerian authorities, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, condemned the attacks.
“I’m convening the ministers in the security cluster today to make sure that we keep a close eye on these acts of wanton violence and find ways of stopping them,” the president said.
“There can be no justification for any South African to attack people from other countries.”
Take a look at the videos of their arrival below: