'We cannot compel countries to take back persons' - Naledi Pandor on repatriation requests

International relations & co-operation minister Naledi Pandor said countries cannot open their borders 'because South Africa asks them to do so'.
International relations & co-operation minister Naledi Pandor said countries cannot open their borders 'because South Africa asks them to do so'.
Image: Sunday Times / Simphiwe Nkwali

Minister of international relations Naledi Pandor has shut down requests from repatriated South Africans who want to be sent back to the countries from which they were repatriated.

During a briefing on Thursday, Pandor suggested the requests were uncalled for. 

“We cannot compel countries to take back persons and they cannot open their borders because South Africa asks them to do so,” said Pandor.

“The process of repatriation is not easy, given the restrictions implemented by countries across the world. The process involved a lot of negotiations with multiple stakeholders, which explains why we couldn’t repatriate some as speedily as we wished,” she said.

Pandor said the government was aware of many South Africans who are still stranded, and it was doing its best to bring them home.

“South Africans abroad requiring repatriation have been encouraged to contact our embassies to enable the department to assess the demand in each country,” said Pandor. “The government continues to appeal for their patience as we explore and negotiate ways to bring them back home.

“It is also important to note that while the government is facilitating the return of our nationals, should they wish to return abroad after the lockdown is lifted, the government will bear no cost thereof.”


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