The number of Nigerians who have decided to leave South Africa for Nigeria is increasing. In the wake of new wave of attacks that came with more people, weapons, and government support, more foreign nationals are left with no option other than run for their dear lives.
About 400 Nigerians are set to return in 3 days, while several others will come subsequently. The Sowetan Live, reported that protesters from various hostels in eastern Johannesburg have been unleashed into the streets with weapons, singing “foreigners must go” songs, and looting every shop within their reach.
The police said that at least one person has been killed as security forces try to stop the mob from looting shops belonging to migrants.
The recent attacks are believed to have been emboldened by South African Government’s support for the xenophobia. Notable government officials have been noticed excusing it. The former president, Thabo Mbeki told the press:
“Attacks in South Africa are not targeted at legitimate Nigerians but against Nigerian criminals.”
When summoned by the Nigerian Government, the South African high commissioner to Nigeria denied there is xenophobic attacks against Nigerians, and later claimed that it’s all because Nigerians are drug dealers.
Nigeria’s relationship with South Africa has deteriorated as a result of the recent events. And the Nigeria’s Government’s plan to repatriate willing Nigerians through volunteered plane of AirPeace Nigeria, is underway, as many Nigerians are already undergoing registration and other necessary documentations are being carried out.
The Nigerian Commissioner to South Africa, Kabiru Bala, said:
“We are documenting them. Those without travel documents, we shall provide them with emergency travel certificates.
“There are other governmental procedures that we must observe. Relevant government agencies in Nigeria must be informed and must be ready to receive the returnees.
“Hard work is now going on at High Commission and Consulate in this regard. As soon as all procedures and relevant protocols are observed, the return is assured and guaranteed.”
The first batch of returnees is expected to leave South Africa on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged the African Commission to sue the South African Government for enabling the xenophobic attacks that has resulted in loss of many lives and property. The group asked the African Commission to press for $10 billion in damages.
The chairperson of the Commission, Ms Soyata Maiga, in response to the request, has agreed that the African Commission will take appropriate actions on SERAP’s request to get justice for the victims, which includes adequate compensation for the victims at the tune of $10 billion. In a response email to SERAP today, Maiga wrote:
“Thank you for your open letter requesting our commission to take action to court. I have just shared the letter with Ms Jamesina Essie King, the chair of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, for follow up and appropriate actions.”