The government of south Africa is currently making great efforts to frustrate the evacuation of Nigerians who have signaled their intention to return from South Africa on account of xenophobic attacks in the country, and now that effort has resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of Nigerians who returned home on Wednesday 11th September, 2019. About 320 Nigerians were planned to return with the flight but only 187 Nigerians made the flight, no thanks to efforts made by the SA government to frustrate the evacuation arrangement.
The flight arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, at 9.43pm.
One of the 187 returnees, Uche Victor, told reporters he left his wife who he said was a Cameronian and a young daughter behind in country previously ruled by the late Nelson Mandela.
He said, “I’m bleeding because I left my wife and baby but I have to come back because my mother cries for me to return. If something happens to me she will suffer.
“I left my business, I came back with nothing. South Africans believe all Nigerians are drug pushers, but I don’t know the colour of any drug.”
Victor, who explained that he left Nigeria for South Africa in 2007, explained that the attacks were anger against the government.
“They are only venting their anger on foreigners. They started with black and will move to whites,” he said.
According to him, the flight would have returned earlier but the South African government made it difficult.
“They didn’t want us to go but for Nigeria’s consulate,” he added.
Another returnee from Abia State, who gave his name as Onuoha, said a lot of Nigerians were still stranded as they could not return with their properties.
Aliu Saheed, from Osun State, said his shop was burgled and he came back home empty-handed.
“But I’m happy to be home, I’m not going back again,” he said.
S’A cancels visas issued to returning Nigerians
There were also reports that the South African authorities went further to cancel visas that were issued to the returning Nigerians.
A picture on Facebook showed a Nigerian passport with a cancelled South African visa dated September 10.
The Chairman, Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said there was 15 hours delay before the flight could leave South Africa.
She had earlier told journalists that the South African authorities brought new immigration rules before the affected Nigerians could be allowed to board the aircraft planned to return them home. And this is despite the fact that South African citizens who are leading the xenophobic attacks on foreigners have being demanding that all foreigners including Nigerians should leave their country or face attacks on their persons and businesses.
According to Dabiri-Erewa, the Federal Government is giving N40,000 worth of airtime to last them for two months as well as stipend of N10,000 for transport.
She also said there were plans for the Bank of Industry to provide some money for the returnees to start small businesses.
Meanwhile, the Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Mrs Toyin Olajide, said the evacuation would cost the airline about N300m.
Olajide said the cost would include payment of passenger service charge, aeronautical and other charges.