Busloads of Nigerians said their last farewells to South Africa on Wednesday morning.
Despite staring poverty in the face, four busloads of Nigerians who had been victims of the violence in Johannesburg left from the Nigerian Consulate to start the trip of roughly 7,000km to Nigeria.
Ben Okoli from the Nigerian Citizen Association South Africa (Nicasa) said the majority of the foreign nationals who had occupied the buses had previously owned shops and businesses for quite a while in South Africa.
Okoli said they communicated a longing to leave after a few dangers to their lives, and frailty about their wellbeing.
“Their means of livelihood have been completed destroyed.
“I don’t think these ones who are leaving today are going to come back, because they actually expressed their desire to leave. They feel that they are no longer happy staying here after what they have experienced,” Okoli said.
He could not immediately confirm the number of people who left on Wednesday morning. He said many left with their whole relatives.
Four South African women were on the last bus which departed. More Nigerians are required to leave in the following couple of days.
A Nigerian national, who asked not to be named, disclosed to the media that the xenophobia in SA was shocking.
“Imagine your family going home without concrete arrangements. I wonder how some of us must cope.”
“The situation is very bad, in the end we can’t afford to lose our lives for simply seeking greener pastures.”
“This is simply criminality, there is no way some would break into my shop and loot everything and attack us. I was not happy with what was happening, we can go if they tell us to go,” he said.
A subsequent man, who is a retailer in Johannesburg, came to drop off his relatives. He said he will remain behind for a couple of months before settling on a choice about whether to return. He inquired as to whether the government would repay individuals who had lost their stock and shops in the ongoing spate of plundering and fire-related crime in Johannesburg.
“My family back home in Nigeria is so worried. I just want my family to be secure and leave South Africa because of the way things are going.
“My shops and everything have been burnt down, so there is no way I can feed them now.”