Xenophobia in South Africa: First Nigerian returnees arrive in Lagos
A first wave of 200 Nigerian nationals left South Africa on Wednesday after a week of xenophobic violence against foreigners. In total, 600 compatriots must be ...
A plane carrying 189 Nigerians landed in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital, on Wednesday (September 11th). After the series of lethal attacks in South Africa against foreigners last week, the authorities decided this week to repatriate their compatriots. Around 600 people came out of the 100,000 or so who currently live in South Africa, the continent's largest industrial powerhouse.
During this wave of violence, at least 12 people were killed in the violence and hundreds of stores were destroyed and more than 420 people were arrested. Companies and properties owned by Nigerians have been targeted. None of them were killed, but the violence led to a condemnation by all of Africa, particularly in Nigeria, fueling diplomatic tensions between the Abuja and Pretoria.
The attacks also provoked reprisals against South African companies in Nigeria and the temporary closure of South African diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja.
"They burned my entire store"
On board the plane, passengers sang the national anthem, while waving photos of burned out stores. "I was scared for my life, they would have killed me," Samson Aliyu, a clothing salesman who lived in South Africa for two years, told AFP. "They burned everything in my shop," he added.
"We were expecting 317 passengers, but according to the information we have, 189 are on board," said Nigerian Foreign Minister Abike Dabiri-Erewa. "The plane was almost five hours late," she added, accusing the Johannesburg authorities of not having made things easier for some passengers who did not have their passports in order. "We are frustrated to have to bring them home, but we are happy that they are here," she concluded. The government is committed to providing financial assistance to returnees.