Government plans more repatriation missions for SA citizens stranded abroad

South Africans repatriated from Wuhan in China ended their 14-day quarantine period on Sunday.
South Africans repatriated from Wuhan in China ended their 14-day quarantine period on Sunday.
Image: Graeme Hosken

The government is making plans for more repatriation missions of South Africans stranded in various countries abroad.

There are a total of 1,471 South Africans including 723 students, 204 employees, 224 tourists and 320 yet to be declared who are stranded abroad.

International relations minister Naledi Pandor said that in deciding who to repatriate, the government would prioritise people who are stuck at airports without food as well as the elderly.

“In terms of assistance that we are contemplating for those who are stranded overseas, I’ve directed that priority be given to those who are stranded at the airports, who say they are having to sleep on the floor, they have no means for food, those who have no funds, no accommodation, the elderly and those who are infirm,” Pandor said.

This comes as the 114 nationals who were evacuated from Wuhan in China over two weeks ago started heading back to their homes after successful completion of the 14-day quarantine period​.

Although Pandor did not say when these repatriations would begin, she said that they were still collecting data and were expecting the number of 1,471 to increase.

She said that those who did not require the government’s assistance in travelling back to the country were free to make those arrangements themselves.

The ministry of transport has also relaxed travel restrictions and has now decided to allow flights carrying locals to land in the country.

This means that airports will be allowed to start welcoming flights from other countries.

However, transport minister Fikile Mbalula said that all of those who would be coming back to the country in the next few days would be subjected to quarantine for a period of up to 21 days.

“The evacuation of South African citizens who desire to come back home is allowed provided he or she has a fully paid return flight ticket. On arrival they will be subjected to mandatory quarantine for a period of up to 21 days, the crew shall be allowed to disembark subject to mandatory quarantine laws as may be applicable,” Mbalula said. 

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