WATCH | 'I was touched, watching our children inside those buses'- Polokwane residents react as SA evacuees arrive

2020-03-14 15:33

There were mixed emotions from Polokwane residents on Saturday afternoon as they watched buses ferrying South African citizens repatriated from Wuhan coming through the Limpopo capital, and making their way to the lodge where they will be quarantined.

Four buses carried 114 citizens, 18 crew members, 14 medical officers and three embassy officials who disembarked the South African Airways' Airbus A340-642 at around 10:30 at Polokwane International Airport on Saturday. 

Several roads were closed to allow the convoy smooth access as it made its way to Protea Hotel's The Ranch Resort, situated just 25km outside the CBD. 

Residents watched from a distance as the South Africans, who had masks on, were transported from the town to the resort. 

At a filling station on the R101, scores of residents recorded the moment the buses drove past. 

"I don't know how I feel because I see SA is trying to help others get healed. I am happy [citizens were repatriated] because South Africa is doing something," Johannes Baloyi said.

'What makes me happy is that they are not sick'

Some people started gathering at the garage after police cordoned off the route which leads to the resort. The area is on complete lockdown and guarded by SANDF troops and police officials, who will also be quarantined. 

"I was touched, watching our children inside those buses, but what makes me happy is that they are not sick," Mafiwa Madubanya said. 

Madubanya said she was aware that some people were unhappy that the quarantine would be happening in the province. She added that she was looking forward to seeing the SA citizens going back to their communities after their quarantine period. 

Special hub: All you need to know about coronavirus in SA and the world

"Limpopo province is part of South Africa. And all those people are part of us. I have no issues that they are here and I hope that they can be cleared from the virus," she added. 

The group were welcomed by the hotel's staff, along with medics from the SA Health Military Service, who will monitor them throughout the process. 

Another resident, Michael Whitehead, said he was also emotional after seeing the buses with the people inside. He added that, while they were concerned about their health since the announcement that they would be quarantined in the province, they had received the communication that the people were not sick. 

"It was very sad to see those people. There have been talks of why they must come this side, because there's better hospitals in Joburg, even in Cape Town," he said. 

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