South African immigration official has reportedly noted that the former apartheid nation may impose a 10-year travel ban on evacuated Nigerians as the authorities were not happy with the evacuation.
According to reports, the first batch of the returnees had boarded the aircraft at the Johannesburg airport when the SA immigration officials announced that they must carry out a biometric capture. One of the officials who participated in the exercise reportedly told Punch that the valid South African visas possessed by Nigerians were cancelled during the biometric exercise.
Further reports revealed that the biometrics was a ploy to blacklist Nigerians, who are leaving the country. “When you are evacuating your citizens from a country, it is like sending a strong message to that country about your relations with them. No country would be happy with the evacuation of foreign nationals from its territory.”, A South African immigration official was reported to have said
Narrating the ordeal, one of the returnees was said to have revealed that some Nigerians however decided not to do the biometrics and stayed back in SA. “South Africans were very strategic. We arrived at Joburg by 6.15 am. The intention was to leave by 9 am, but after clearing about 85 out of the 313 who were scheduled for airlifting, they insisted they should do biometric capture for those who were willing to leave. So, they had to come down from the plane and start the clearance process afresh.
Now, there are reports that if they capture your biometrics and you leave, you won’t be allowed into South Africa again or you may be barred from visiting for at least 10 years. So, some Nigerians who planned to come to Nigeria to relax for some time and then go back eventually decided to stay back for fear of being barred from visiting South Africa, where they have investments and families.“
“The immigration asked those who were travelling with children to present letters of consent from their spouses. If they didn’t have the consent letter, they would not allow the children to leave with the mother. Initially, it was 313 persons who were billed to come back with the flight, but 135 went back.
They included those who were travelling with children without letters of consent and those who did not want to do the biometrics so that they wouldn’t be barred from returning to South Africa again. “, an airport official told Punch.READ ALSO: #Xenophobia: South Africa Frustrates Nigerians Evacuation Process As 187 Out Of 320 Safely Leaves The Country
Answering if there was a formal announcement to the ban, another SA official told the Punch, “There was no formal announcement to this effect, but there were reports that anyone who left may be barred from visiting South Africa for life or for at least 10 years.
The credibility of the report was strengthened when the immigration officials were cancelling valid visas, as they were clearing those with valid travel documents. Even if you have one or two years visa, it was cancelled, and this means you have to apply afresh and it may be difficult for you to get the visa again.“