Taxpayers to pay R25m to bring South Africans home from virus-hit Wuhan

Disembarking passengers don masks at Cape Town International Airport on March 6 2020 amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak.
Disembarking passengers don masks at Cape Town International Airport on March 6 2020 amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

The repatriation of South Africans from coronavirus-hit Hubei province, China, is going to cost taxpayers R25m.

President Cyril Ramaphosa told parliament that he had employed 151 members of the defence force (SANDF) in service to support the department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) and the department of health to return the South Africans who are in Hubei.

In a letter to parliament’s presiding officers, National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo, Ramaphosa revealed that the deployment of the SANDF was from March 1 to April 15.

“The total expenditure expected to be incurred for this is R25m,” said Ramaphosa.

A total of 184 South Africans living in Wuhan asked the SA government to evacuate them as a precaution amid the outbreak there. Most are students, teachers and other professionals working in the city, according to a government statement.

At this stage, only seven South Africans have opted to remain in Wuhan City.

“The aircraft with the capacity to bring back the citizens in Wuhan has been secured,” said the government.

A team with officials from various departments, including health, and the military will be on board.

In his letter, Ramaphosa said the employment of the SANDF members was in accordance with the provisions of the Defence Act.

Section 201 of the constitution requires that the president should inform parliament - promptly and in appropriate detail - of the reasons for the employment of the defence force, any place where the force is being employed, the number of people involved and the period for which the force is expected to be employed.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

X