Almost 200 Nigerian migrants were repatriated from South Africa on Wednesday following a wave of xenophobic violence that swept through the country and sparked sharp exchanges between the two countries.
Around 200 Nigerian migrants were repatriated from South Africa on Wednesday, September 11 after a series of xenophobic attacks that increased through the country, reported AFP.
Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos received a flight carrying 189 Nigerians who expressed their relief after making it to their homeland by singing the national anthem while waving photos of burnt shops.
"I ran for my life, they would have killed me," said Samson Aliyu, a clothes seller who lived in South Africa for two years.
"They burnt my shop, everything," he added.
More than 600 Nigerians are expected to return from South Africa this week, the Nigerian government has said.
"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.
"There was a lot of frustration in getting them back home, but we're glad that they will be here," she added.
Leading the returnees in singing the national anthem, Dabiri-Erewa promised the government would provide financial support.
Johannesburg and surrounding areas witnessed a series of xenophobic attacks on foreigners last week, many directed against Nigerian-owned businesses and properties.
At least ten people were killed in the violence and hundreds of shops destroyed while more than 420 people were arrested.
No Nigerians were killed, but the violence led to condemnation across Africa, particularly in Nigeria, fuelling diplomatic tensions between the continent's two leading nations.
The violence also prompted reprisal attacks against South African firms in Nigeria and the temporary closing of South Africa's diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja.