Nigerians Return Home After Xenophobic Attacks In South Africa

Nigerians Return Home After Xenophobic Attacks In South Africa

For many Nigerians, South Africa is not a safe place anymore.

In recent memory, xenophobic attacks in South Africa have been recurrent for different reasons. Some were politically motivated, while others were prompted by anti-migration. And when the xenophobic attacks were prompted by anti-migration, South Africans took greater issues with Nigerians in particular. The last xenophobic attacks happened in Durban. 

Protesters Against Xenophobia in South Africa

On the 25 March 2019 xenophobic riots targeting African immigrants broke out in Sydenham, Jadhu Place and Overport areas of Durban. This time it happened in Jeppestown and Johannesburg following the death of a taxi driver. 

As a result, almost two hundred Nigerians returned home after xenophobic attacks in South Africa on Wednesday after the attack sparked exchanges between the two countries. And most of the passengers were in a triumphant mood when a flight carrying 189 of them landed in Lagos. They punched the air and sang Nigeria's national anthem. 


Samson Aliyu, one of the passengers who had lived in South Africa for two years, said that if he had not run for his life he would have been killed. 

“I ran for my life, they would have killed me,” he said. “They burnt my shop and everything.”

What Next For Nigerians Who Returned Home After Xenophobic Attacks In South Africa?

What Next?

Still, this first badge isn't the only ones expected to be back to Nigeria. The Nigerian government has said that more than 600 Nigerians are expected back to the country. 

“We were expecting 317 but from the information, we have 189 are on board,” said Nigeria's minister for diaspora affairs Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

“There was about a five-hour delay courtesy of the South African authorities who actually frustrated this return of Nigerians,” she said, blaming authorities in Johannesburg for failing to help Nigerians without travel documents. She added that there was a lot of frustration in getting them back home but we're glad that they will be here. 

Dabiri-Erewa, who joined the returnees in singing the national anthem, promised that there is help in the pipeline from the Nigerian government. 

The attack left a lot of people without a means of livelihood. The attack was widely condemned across Africa, Though no Nigerians were killed. Overall,  hundreds of shops were looted and destroyed while more than 420 people were arrested.

There is a lot of concern on how the returnees can settle back in Nigeria. There is hope that the government will set up measures to help them. Also, the timely intervention of Air Peace ensured that stranded Nigerians who could not afford the airfare came home too.

Read also: Xenophobic Attacks: Fear Grips Nigerians Abroad


Written by

Lydia Ume