An Air Peace Airlines flight carrying 189 Nigerians landed Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos late Wednesday, with returnees fleeing from Xenophobic attack singing the country’s national anthem waving pictures of destroyed shops.
“I ran for my life, They burnt my shop, everything, they would have killed me,” Samson Aliyu, a clothes seller who lived in South Africa for two years, told AFP.
Similarly, Pastor Ugo Ofoegbu who has lived in South Africa for close to two decades, lamented the crisis fomented by South African youths. He sent his wife and three children back to Nigeria.
“My family is not safe here,” Ofoegbu said.
Precious Oluchi Mbabie, a 35-year-old Nigerian woman who works as a fashion designer and seamstress in a Johannesburg suburb, boarded the flight with her three children, leaving her husband behind.
She said that,”We agreed that it is better I go back home with the children, where we are staying is very dangerous because of xenophobic attacks. They say they don’t want any foreigners there.”
She and her family live in Rosettenville, one of the first areas to be affected by the violence.
Nigeria began repatriating more than 600 of its citizens from South Africa following a wave of deadly xenophobic attacks that frayed relations among neighbouring nations.
Private Nigerian airline Air Peace volunteered to fly people for free back to the commercial capital Lagos on Wednesday.
A second flight departs on Thursday or Friday with 640 Nigerians in total fleeing the country.
The repatriation came after riots in Pretoria and Johannesburg killed at least 12 people as 1,000 foreign-owned businesses were targeted. The nationalities of those killed have not been announced but Nigerians, Ethiopians, Congolese, and Zimbabweans were attacked, according to local media.