© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
My ordeal in South Africa — they burnt my workshop, cars, I have to leave — Victim of xenophobia
ONE of the 187 Nigerians who just returned from South Africa as a result of the recent xenophobic attacks has recounted his ordeals in the hands of the irate South Africans who he said burnt down his mechanic workshops and cars.
“I am a mechanic; I have a workshop. So they came to my workshop; they burnt the place, they broke all the cars. I’m a German car mechanic,” said Bethel Mido as he arrived along side others at the Murtala International Airport on Wednesday.
Mido, a German car mechanic said he watched as his means of livelihood were being destroyed by the South Africans who insisted foreigners, including Nigerians must leave their country.
According to him, he decided to fill the forms to return to Nigeria “Since they burnt all the cars,” adding, ” I couldn’t afford to pick them anymore, so yesterday I had to fill the forms, I have to leave.”
With over 600 Nigerians willing to return to the country, over xenophobic attack, 187 comprising men, women, and children arrived a Lagos, at 9:35 pm on Wednesday having being delayed for about five hours at the South African airport by Immigration officials.
The delay was as a result of wrong documentation and expired Passport of some Nigerians willing to return home.
Some other returnees also narrated their experiences in South Africa. One of them who did not give his name said his business in the country had crumbled.
“The business that I’m doing, everything is crumbled because they bunt those cars, that place is where I’m supplying my product,” said unnamed returnee.
Jude Anthony, another returnee also expressed grief as a foreigner in South Africa for about seven years. He said the attack in the country on foreigners, was a coordinated policy dated to the regime of the past government.
“The experience has been terrible. I have been in South African for seven years; I witnessed the bestiality of humanity in South Africa,”Anthony said.
“I have seen violence on blacks on blacks, I will not blame the people that much because what is happening in South Africa is coordinated.”
He insisted that “Xenophobia is a policy-driven right from the era of former president Jacob Zuma or even the regime preceding Zuma,” adding, that ” it is driven by the South African police.”
“In the presence of the police, people are being slaughtered like chicken and there is no outrage from the West; the West is not condemning it, America is not condemning it because they see it as black on black violence. Which is very wrong, violence is wrong, criminality is wrong,” Anthony said.
However, the Federal Government has unveiled its plan on a reintegration program for all returnees, especially for those interested.
According to Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, “they are to receive airtime which would last for well over two months, as well as a soft loan from the Bank of Industry to support those interested in little businesses”.
She said each sim card will have #160,400 worth of talk time, plus 9GB of data valid for two months, as well as transport stipend to convey them to their various destinations.
Dabiri-Arewa who received the returnees in Lagos expressed hope that the South African government would show a political will in deploying efforts to stop the killings of foreigners in its country.
She called for unity of Africans while asking to desist from all forms of hatred.