Polish government: Plane with Ramaphosa’s security had ‘unsafe goods’ on board
Warsaw — The Polish foreign ministry on Friday claimed an SAA plane carrying President Cyril Ramaphosa’s security detail was grounded because it was transporting dangerous or unsafe goods that had not been declared.
The plane, which was also carrying several journalists, has been grounded at the Chopin International Airport in Warsaw for almost 24 hours.
This, according to a statement by the Polish foreign ministry, is apparently because of security concerns.
“On board the plane there were dangerous materials, the import of which was not authorised by South African representatives,” the foreign ministry said.
“In addition, there were people on board the plane who had not been previously notified to the Polish side,” the statement read.
The flight, with more than 120 people on board, left South Africa at about 1.30am on Thursday, and experienced problems two hours before arriving in Warsaw. The passengers include an advanced team that was to provide security for Ramaphosa who is on a mission to seek an end to the Russia-Ukraine war.
The media contingent was expected to cover and report on Ramaphosa’s meetings with both Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Kyiv and St Petersburg, respectively. At 3pm on Friday the passengers were still uncertain whether they would be allowed to proceed to St Petersburg. Ramaphosa started his journey to Kyiv on Friday.
The Polish ministry said it had made efforts to ensure the trip was smooth including holding three consultative meetings with Dirco, the presidency and the South African embassy in Poland.
“The South African side was informed about all the necessary formalities for the delegation’s entry into the territory of the Republic of Poland and the required transport permits,” the ministry said, adding “actions are being taken to resolve the situation”.
The Polish Border Guard (BG) said the passengers on board the South African aircraft had opted to remain on the plane even when they were given an option to disembark provided they left their weapons behind.
“The members of the delegation had weapons with them, not having permission for their import, but they were allowed to leave the plane by themselves. Passengers made [a] decision to stay on board till the moment when the flight will be continued.
“The crew members were subject to [a] border check by the BG officers and after [that] they took rest,” it said.
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