Over 600 Nigerians will be voluntarily returning home from South Africa according to the head of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri.
The first news of repatriation was from a local airline, Air Peace which made the offer last week. Its plans were impacted by lack of documentation of beneficiaries. The embassy stepped in to provide necessary papers.
The first batch are expected to leave on two flights on Wednesday, Nigeria’s Consul General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama, told the BBC.
Only those who were under distress as a result of the attacks would leave the country, he added. The government via president Buhari also issued a statement for voluntary repatriation of all Nigerians living in South Africa.
Ms Dabiri has also called for the South African government to pay compensation to victims of the xenophobic violence that has so far claimed a dozen lives. Lawmakers in Nigeria’s lower chamber have also said they will push for compensation.
September 8, 2019: Fresh violence erupts in Johannesburg
At least two people have died and dozens arrested following fresh xenophobic attacks in South Africa’s Johannesburg city on Sunday.
Local Eyewitness News reported that a group of men had raided the city’s central business district on Sunday morning, demanding that foreigners leave the area.
The city’s police chief David Tembe confirmed that two people had died from gunshot wounds and stabbing, adding that cars, buildings and businesses had been vandalised.
“I think this is pure criminality because some of the shops that were burned did not belong to the foreigners, it belonged to South Africans,’‘ Tembe said.
September 7, 2019: Nigeria debunks explosion at SA embassy in Abuja
The Nigerian government on Saturday dispelled reports that there had been an explosion at the Abuja premises of the South African embassy.
Information Minister Lai Mohammed told the media that the reports that had been making the rounds were untrue and that no such incident had taken place.
A statement by his media aide said the “explosion” was fake news orchestrated by the desperate opposition to cause panic and chaos among the populace.
The Police also called the report classic fake news.
“Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force has provided adequate security in and around all South African Missions and related business interests,” their statement read in part.
South African businesses were targeted earlier this week in reprisal attacks by some Nigerians after a surge in xenophobic violence saw other Africans attacked in Johannesburg and other areas.
The South African embassy closed its doors in the wake of the security threats that officials were receiving. Some businesses like MTN and Shoprite closed their shops for fear of attacks.
The Nigerian government also issued a travel advisory for South Africa, pulled out of the World Economic Forum on Africa – which took place in Caper Town and recalled its envoy.
A private airline, Air Peace, has since offered to evacuate citizens who are willing to voluntarily return but the move has been hampered as a result of the lack of proper documentation of some of the applicants.