Coronavirus: Ramaphosa to see off 151 soldiers on R25m mission to Wuhan

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President Cyril Ramaphosa on a walkabout at the OR Tambo International Airport.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on a walkabout at the OR Tambo International Airport.
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President Cyril Ramaphosa will see off the team on Tuesday evening which will be repatriating the South Africans who are still trapped in Wuhan, China, following the coronavirus outbreak, the Presidency has said.

The mission would cost R25 million and included 151 members of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), according to the letter Ramaphosa sent to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to inform Parliament of the deployment.

The president is legally required to write such a letter when he deploys the SANDF.

Ramaphosa wrote in the letter, dated 28 February, the soldiers would assist the departments of international relations and cooperation and health with the repatriation of the South Africans.

"The employment is from 1 March 2020 to 15 April 2020. The total expenditure expected to be incurred for this deployment is R25 000 000."

Two weeks ago, Ramaphosa announced the government was planning to repatriate 184 South Africans from Wuhan after they expressed a desire to return, News24 reported.

They include teachers and other professionals currently working in Wuhan.

Seven other South Africans have chosen to stay in the city.

Last week, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize indicated the department had obtained a plane to repatriate them.

"The team will depart the country this evening from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg," read the statement from the Presidency.

Ramaphosa will be joined by Mkhize and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

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