Published: Thu, September 12, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Diplomatic row looms as South Africa frustrates, arrests voluntary returnees

Diplomatic row looms as South Africa frustrates, arrests voluntary returnees

President Muhammadu Buhari will visit South Africa next month to address the attacks and seek a solution.

At least 640 Nigerians have signed up to leave South Africa.

Busloads of Nigerians are being conveyed to the airport and more are expected to follow.

"On Sunday, I didn't come to the shop because I was very scared. I think they did not make proper arrangements with South African emigration officials, if they did there wouldn't be such a problem", he said.

The police confirmed 12 people have been killed and 639 people had been arrested as of Monday after the latest wave of attacks as dozens of foreign-owned businesses are looted and destroyed.

"Government continues to monitor the situation with a view to escalating the evacuation exercise should the situation deteriorate".

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The evacuees, who departed OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, around 4p.m aboard an Air Peace Boeing 777 aircraft, touched down at 9:34pm on Wednesday.

But there is also high unemployment in the country and some people feel foreigners are taking their jobs.

"What has happened here and this is through discussions at a diplomatic mission level... is that a private citizen, who owns an airline has offered to evacuate Nigerians from South Africa and obviously there are immigration rules that go with that". Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh and Ethiopia topped the list of countries where people applied for asylum or refugee status in 2018.

And retaliatory attacks in Nigeria forced South African businesses there to shut down for several days.

Francis Mark, a 34-year-old Nigerian who had his documents in order to board the Wednesday flight, said he was leaving his hair salon business in Germiston, east of Johannesburg, after running it for two years.

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, says the returnees would be encouraged to enroll and participate in the various social intervention programmes of the federal government.

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