Chefs, teachers' jobs overseas put on hold because of coronavirus

Tshepiso Mokoena, a chef from Protea Glen in Soweto, was supposed to go to the US this week./Thulani Mbele
Tshepiso Mokoena, a chef from Protea Glen in Soweto, was supposed to go to the US this week./Thulani Mbele

Tshepiso Mokoena's excitement at moving to the US to start a new job as a chef has been short-lived.

Mokoena is among a group of culinary chefs who were meant to leave SA this week for West Virginia to start new jobs but had to halt their plans due to the travel bans announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday.

"When I got the job offer in February, I was excited as this would change my life and that of my family for the better. My visa was already approved but we were told we can't travel because of the virus... I understand my health comes first."

Mokoena from Soweto now has to stay at home after she informed her previous employer that she had found a new job and would be leaving soon. She said she had already been replaced. "We had to raise $400 [R6 640] for travelling and I'm worried that I won't be able to pay some of my bills this month.

"Though I still have the $400, I can't use it because I will have to use it when the time to travel to the US comes."

Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act and government implemented travel bans to a number of countries including Italy, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the US, the UK and China.

"Even though this will affect my financial plans, I am glad everything was announced when we were still here in South Africa, instead of being stuck in some foreign country and as an asthmatic person it could have been easy to acquire the virus," she said.

Ziyanda Mavitana, 28, also resigned from her job and served a notice to her landlord.

"We understand there is nothing they can do because restaurants that side are closed and there is not much to do. I am glad it happened while I am still around my family. I am worried about my finances," she said.

A woman who got a job as a teacher overseas and asked not to be named said she was supposed to go to China.

"I got a job as an English teacher in one of the high schools in China. I was supposed to leave in February and I was told to wait until the month end, but the situation worsened and I am still waiting. I get comfort from knowing that my contract is secured," said the East Rand college teacher.

She said she was worried about her finances as she used a lot of money to prepare for the relocation.

"However, I spoke to some of my friends who are already that side [China] and they told me that today they were allowed to go outside. Maybe in time, I will be joining them."

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