Govt working hard to bring home almost 1 500 stranded South Africans - Pandor

2020-03-31 21:09
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor.

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor. (DIRCO)

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About 1 471 South African citizens stranded abroad have appealed to the government to return home amid the global outbreak of Covid-19, government revealed in a briefing on Tuesday.

"We empathise with their plight and are doing whatever is within our means to assist them to be safe, as comfortable as possible, and to travel back to South Africa," International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor said.

The minister further revealed that, of the total stranded citizens, 723 are students, 204 are workers, 224 are tourists and 320 have not disclosed their status.

"I cannot say that these numbers are 100 percent accurate as it is based on people who have approached us for assistance through our missions and consular services. There may be more people in need of assistance that we do not know about yet," she added.

News24 earlier reported that a group of South Africans had been left stranded in Morocco. They had been pleading with government since 15 March to bring them back home after Morocco shut down its airports.

"Our missions, where possible, will continue to render consular services, including negotiating with the governments where there are lockdowns, in order to facilitate the movement of stranded South Africans," Pandor said.

In addition, News24 also reported that a dad stuck in Cameroon was pleading with government to bring him back home to his son, who is battling cancer.

Reginald Faulmann (62) told News24 on Tuesday that, following the minister's announcement, he was in possession of a fully-paid return ticket and the embassy had been in contact with him. It was "awaiting instruction from the headquarters in Pretoria".

ALSO READ: 'Please get me home to my dying son' – Dad stranded in Cameroon's plea to SA govt

Pandor also said priority would be given to those who were stranded at airports, running out of accommodation, and the elderly and the sick.

However, due to difficulties associated with travel restrictions, the government was appealing to those who could afford to return to do so at their own cost.

"Some South Africans have explored options such as arranging private charter flights to SA. In such cases, we have requested our missions to assist with obtaining flight clearances in the host countries and to get permission to depart on such a chartered flight," Pandor explained.

For those who cannot depart, the department will liaise with families and friends in SA to contribute to the payment for accommodation.

"Our missions and head office will continue to be in touch with all South Africans until they are comfortably reunited with their families. The regulations require of all incoming nationals, irrespective of risk category, to undergo screening, testing and be quarantined," Pandor said.

Read more on:    naledi pandor  |  coronavirus  |  lockdown
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