Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The national command council is looking into the issue of South African citizens who live and work abroad but are prohibited by lockdown regulations from leaving the country.

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said during a meeting of parliament’s home affairs committee on Tuesday that the national command council had discussed the issue on Monday and a decision would be communicated in the next few days. The council is responsible for the government’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Domestic and international travel is prohibited under level 5 and 4 of the lockdown regulations.

“We are very much aware of it and have motivated for it and I am sure we will give an answer in the next day or two exactly what is going to happen,” the minister said. “I want to assure you that that is getting our attention.”

DA MP Adrian Roos raised the problem noting that only foreign nationals and certain South Africans such as those with dual citizenship, permanent residents, family members of a foreigner and those with medical emergencies were allowed to leave the country.

“I don’t believe the intention was to exclude South Africans,” Roos said, noting that those who earned a living or normally lived overseas or who had work or student visas to stay abroad were not able to leave the country even though they had financial responsibilities overseas.

 “They are now being considered one by one and my e-mail and phone are being flooded and I know immigration services are buckling under the load,” Roos said.

He proposed that anyone with a valid visa from the receiving country and who was approved by the relevant embassy, travels at their own expense and waives the right to repatriation flights should be able to leave SA.