South Africans in Morocco offer to pay to get those stranded in Egypt home
South Africans holed up in Morocco, where a flight is being arranged to repatriate them to SA, have offered to share the cost to charter a flight for 43 South Africans stranded in Egypt.
This would allow the two groups to fly back home together.
The 43 South Africans in Egypt indicated on Wednesday that they were unable come up with the $47,000, excluding passenger taxes, for the charter flight from Egypt to join their compatriots in Morocco.
However, even if South Africans manage to raise money for the charter flight, another problem awaits — Morocco does not allow disembarkation of foreign passengers on its land.
"I am being told now that Morocco will not allow people to disembark from one plane to get on to another.
"I have been on the phone with the embassy [in Rabat, Morocco] ... we are trying to deal with it all, but let us see what comes of it," said James de Wet, a South African who is in Morocco, on Thursday.
Those in Egypt had paid for their flight to SA, which was due to depart on April 14, but was cancelled because of lack of landing rights by SAA.
De Wet said the group of 34 from Morocco came with a suggestion on sharing the cost of the charter plane for South Africans in Egypt.
"The group in Morocco suggests we would contribute to this cost if it was the only way to get home. So we would share the charter flight costs between the two groups," De Wet said.
De Wet said the flight out of Morocco could be their final opportunity to fly back to SA before a possible extension of a lockdown in Morocco and the end of evacuation flights out of SA to take foreign nationals home.
"This could be our last opportunity for repatriation, co-ordinated with the flights taking foreign nationals out of SA," De Wet said.
Melissa Schnettler, one of the South Africans stranded in Egypt, said on Thursday she had heard of the suggestion of sharing the costs of the charter flights from one of the South Africans in Egypt.
"We would have to contact the 42 people but the most of these people already said that the R7,000 was all they could afford," she said. The R7,000 each was the amount paid by South Africans for the cancelled flight from Egypt to SA.
International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor said on Thursday that it had been able to repatriate some South Africans overseas but admitted there were some areas that were proving difficult for the department to repatriate South Africans.
In some cases, the department had not obtained permission to land.
Pandor said her department was awaiting permission from Pakistan to give the department the go-ahead as there was a charter plane ready to return about 84 South Africans from Pakistan.
"I am very pleased we have 60 people returning from Brazil early this week, and a large number from Miami, 300 plus, arrived yesterday.
"We expect more. That 3,369 [number of South Africans stranded abroad] we are slowly whittling down and people are coming back," Pandor said.
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