'Immigration' issues leave Nigerians stranded as flight home gets delayed
A flight from Johannesburg to Lagos that was arranged to evacuate Nigerians who fear xenophobic attacks in SA was delayed on Wednesday because of problems experienced at check-in.
Prince Ben Okoli, president of the Nigerian Citizens Association SA, said the chartered flight by Nigerian airline Air Peace was due to leave with the first batch of Nigerians at 9.10am on Wednesday.
LISTEN | Nigerians leave SA after xenophobic violence
"However, a number of people were singled out by immigration as they were about to board the flight. This has led to a delay in the flight leaving SA. We are currently looking at solutions to the problem.
"Some [Nigerian nationals] were identified as having problems with immigration. Authorities are attending to the problem. By now they should have left," Okoli said at 3.30pm on Wednesday.
Last week, Air Peace made an offer to evacuate Nigerian nationals who were willing to return home following attacks on foreigners in Johannesburg and Pretoria at the beginning of the month.
The first evacuation was planned for Saturday, September 7, but was postponed until Wednesday to address the issue of expired paperwork of some Nigerians.
The Nigerian foreign affairs ministry said on Wednesday that 649 Nigerian nationals had registered with Nigerian missions in SA for the free flight offer.
The ministry had expected the first 313 nationals to leave Johannesburg on Wednesday on the first of charter flights offered by Air Peace.
Okoli said the consulate-general had promised to issue travel documents free of charge to those who were without valid documents after they had been authenticated by Nigerian authorities to be from that country.
He said that following the maiden flight out of Johannesburg, other flights would be arranged to take "in distress" Nigerians out of SA.