More than 3,000 South Africans return as others devise new plans to come home
Up to 400 South Africans remain stranded in African countries
Thirty-four South Africans who have been stranded in Morocco for seven weeks as a result of a ban on international travel brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic are now pinning their hopes on coming home with airline CemAir.
The airline has undertaken a number of repatriation flights which brought back South Africans from Cameroon and Sudan in the past week.
The airline is planning a repatriation flight from Kinshasa on Thursday, followed by another flight from Luanda, Angola, the next day.
On May 9, the airline is planning a repatriation flight that will leave Johannesburg to land in Nairobi, Kenya, and then Kigali, Rwanda, for return to SA the same day.
Those in Morocco, who have seen numerous plans to return using SAA not materialising, are now looking to CemAir.
CemAir CEO Miles van der Molen, speaking to Kaya FM last week, said that while Morocco was a long way away from SA, the airline was looking at solutions for South Africans in that country and other people in the bulge region of Africa wanting to come home to SA.
“There are quite a few countries that have a significant number of South Africans who do not really have any way of getting home at this stage. The solution is being finalised but certainly a lot of work is being done,” Van der Molen said.
James de Wet, one of the South Africans in Morocco, said the repatriation plan involved Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Burkino Faso, Ghana and Morocco. De Wet said CemAir wanted to cover as many countries as possible.
“Logistics are challenging, especially crew stayovers. The flight planning is complicated and expensive,” De Wet said.
In an update on Sunday, the department of international relations & co-operation said it had facilitated the repatriation by air of more than 3,000 South Africans stranded abroad.
The department said hundreds of other South Africans had returned by land.
On Sunday afternoon, 275 South Africans who were stranded in the US arrived back home.
Others, also from the US, are expected to arrive back in SA on Tuesday and Saturday.
“Given the challenges we have been experiencing regarding the repatriation of our nationals, mainly from Asia and the Middle East, the department is pleased to announce that on Friday May 8 2020, about 600 South Africans from Bangkok, Thailand, Bali and Jakarta will be repatriated.”
It said the majority of South Africans who were stranded in Europe and the UK had been repatriated.
The department said a further 400 South Africans were stranded in African countries.
“We are working with various stakeholders to explore options on how best to facilitate their return,” the department said.