Hundreds of Nigerian nationals left South Africa Wednesday morning, following recent anti-immigrant attacks which have led to tensions between the two African power houses.
In a Twitter post, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said the evacuated Nigerians will be received on arrival by Senior Management of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja.
“Estimated numbers of Nigerians for the first batch is 313, second batch will be evacuated later this week,” Onyeama said.
The minister said 640 Nigerian nationals have been registered by the Nigerian Mission in South Africa for return.
Most of the Nigerians returning home had their businesses looted or destroyed by rioters in South Africa.
Violence targeting foreign nationals started two weeks ago with shops belonging to foreign nationals being looted for several days.
Relative calm has however been restored in most volatile parts in the capital Pretoria and the country’s largest city Johannesburg.
According to South Africa’s Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, 12 people were killed during the violence -- two of them were foreign nationals.
There is high unemployment in South Africa, where locals often accuse foreigners of taking their jobs, committing crimes and unfairly competing with them in running retail businesses.
They want government to restrict foreign nationals from operating small businesses.
Protesters in Nigeria responded with anger to the violence in South Africa and looted South African-owned businesses operating in Nigeria.
Telecom giant MTN, retail chain store Shoprite and television group MultiChoice were forced to close their outlets in Nigeria following the attacks.
South Africa also temporarily shut down its embassy in Nigeria following the attack, a ministerial spokesman told Anadolu Agency last Thursday.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.