No fewer than 319 Nigerians will be evacuated from South Africa on Tuesday.
In an interview with The PUNCH on the telephone on Sunday, the Chairman, Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, explained that the list of passengers was being updated.
She said that the necessary travel documents would be given to the intending returnees and other immigration issues addressed to ensure a smooth evacuation process.
She noted, “We are still looking at 319. We have 319 registered for the next flight, but the list is still being updated. For the flight, we are looking at Tuesday or Wednesday so that proper documentation would be done. We don’t want a situation where the plane will return half-empty with few passengers.”
When contacted, the Consul-General, Nigerian High Commission in South Africa, Godwin Adama, explained that he was still compiling the list, noting that he could not speak immediately.
The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Sunday sent three officials to President Muhammadu Buhari and heads of six other African countries to deliver messages of solidarity to them over the xenophobic attacks in his country.
A statement on the verified twitter page of the Presidency of South Africa, @PresidencyZA, on Sunday said the team, comprising Mr Jeff Radebe, Ambassador Kingsley Mmabolo and Dr Khulu Mbatha, would also visit Niger Republic, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.
The statement noted that the envoys had begun their assignment on Saturday and had departed South Africa to deliver the messages.
Many Africans, including Nigerians living in South Africa, had come under xenophobic attacks. In the latest attack, about 12 persons were reportedly killed, while businesses belonging to foreigners were destroyed in and around Johannesburg, the country’s largest city.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, in a statement on Sunday, stated, “A team of special envoys appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa began their assignment yesterday, September 14, 2019, and departed South Africa to deliver messages of solidarity to several heads of state and government across Africa.
“The special envoys will deliver a message from President Ramaphosa regarding the incidents of violence that recently erupted in some parts South Africa, which have manifested in attacks on foreign nationals and destruction of property.
“The special envoys are tasked with reassuring fellow African countries that South Africa is committed to the ideals of pan-African unity and solidarity. The special envoys will also reaffirm South Africa’s commitment to the rule of law.”
The latest step by the South African President on the xenophobic attacks in his country came barely one day after he was booed in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, when he was giving a speech at the funeral of the former President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe.
At the funeral, which was held on Saturday, Ramaphosa, whose condolence speech was interrupted by jeers from the crowd, apologised for the attacks in his country.
“I stand before you as a fellow African to express my regret and apologise for what has happened in our country,” he said after one of the organisers tried to calm the crowd.
He, however, insisted that South Africans were not xenophobic and that the country was making efforts to deal with the causes of the violence.
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