Air Peace Airline CEO chief Allen Onyema could not hold back tears as the first flight out of the country was about to take off on Wednesday. An emotional Onyema welcomed those with wishes to leave South Africa aboard the plane and was apparently unable to hold back tears as his countrymen embraced him.
Hundreds of Nigerian nationals have indicated their desire to leave the country due to the ongoing attacks against foreign-owned shops.
A total of 178 Nigerian nationals landed safely in Lagos on Wednesday evening in what was dubbed an expatriation flight out of South Africa. Onyema has been lauded by Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama for his offer to fly Nigerians out of South Africa at no cost.
Twelve people, 10 of them South African, have been killed in the attacks against foreign-owned shops, which as a result prompted the Nigerian consulate to intervene. On Wednesday morning, hundreds of families were gathered outside the Nigerian consulate, boarding buses to be transported to the OR Tambo International Airport, where the flight would take off.
Only 178 Nigerians arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, at around 9.23pm and were received by the acting director in the Southern African affairs division, Chuks Chikezie Jonathan.
It is expected that around 600 Nigerian nationals have indicated their will to leave the country. Several other flights out of the country are expected to take off after Wednesday’s flight, according to the Nigerian ministry.
The airline’s takeoff was severely delayed on Wednesday due to issues around proper documentation. Some Nigerian nationals were even turned away as a result.
On Friday morning, a mother and her four-year-old were camped outside the Nigerian consulate hoping to make the next flight.