Nigerian airline to return more than 600 nationals in the coming days with victims saying its ‘not safe here’.
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 flight carrying 189 Nigerians landed in the commercial capital Lagos late Wednesday, with some of those onboard punching the air and singing the national anthem while waving pictures of burnt shops.
“I ran for my life, they would have killed me,” Samson Aliyu, a clothes seller who lived in South Africa for two years, told AFP news agency. “They burnt my shop, everything,” he added.
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.
The violence sparked an international outcry and calls for a boycott of South Africa.