Nigerians return home, fleeing xenophobic attacks in South Africa

The first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence arrived in Lagos on Wednesday.

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)Dennis Benson was taking a leisurely walk in Birchleigh, a neighborhood in the Johannesburg suburb of Kempton Park, when he spotted a poster calling for a strike on foreign businesses in the area.

The 34-year-old Nigerian entrepreneur told CNN it was then that he started making plans to leave South Africa because he knew it was about to get "bloody."
"I packed my bags and went to stay with a Nigerian friend who lives close to the airport because I knew it was going to get bloody. I have seen other protests," Benson said.
    On September 2, when riots targeting several stores owned by foreigners broke out across Johannesburg, Pretoria and surrounding areas, Benson said he was only looking for an opportunity to go back home.
      Looters run from a shop in Turffontein, east of Johannesburg, on September 2, 2019.
      "A supermarket owned by an Ethiopian beside my apartment was looted and destroyed. The rioters even took the fridge with drinks. They were chanting that people should go back to their country," he said.
      At least 10 people, including two foreigners, were killed in days of violence that erupted after mobs razed and vandalized several businesses and stores owned by immigrants. The anti-foreigner attacks sparked diplomatic protests from several African governments, while some Nigerian citizens retaliated by looting South African-owned brands.
      Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari sent a delegation to South Africa to assess the situation and later announced plans to repatriate 640 citizens from the country.
        Private airline operator Air Peace said it would provide two flights for Nigerians who wanted to leave, while a Nigerian real estate firm offered to pay for those who wanted to return home.
        The first group of 187 people arrived at the Lagos airport Wednesday night, Nigeria's Diaspora Commission Chairwoman Abike Dabiri-Erewa told CNN, and more Nigerians will be evacuated in the coming weeks, she said.
        Nigerians return to their home country on a flight from Johannesburg  Wednesday night.
        Videos showed joyous scenes of passengers singing the Nigerian national anthem as they disembarked the aircraft. Some carried posters that read "Say No to Xenophobia."