DIRCO Minister Naledi Pandor has hinted that her patience has worn thin with repatriated citizens who have since asked to return to the countries they were previously living in. From the cohort of South Africans who made the decision to return to Mzansi at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, a select few have told the department that the grass is greener on the other side.
The implementation of global lockdowns saw repatriation flights take place all across the world. Thousands of South Africans have been brought back by chartered SAA planes, but this country has some of the strictest lockdown laws in the world – including a total ban on alcohol and cigarettes in Levels 4 and 5.
Repatriates ask DIRCO if they can leave South Africa… again
For many, the reduction of civil liberties has all been too much. A number of repatriates have asked DIRCO if they can 'have their cake and eat it' by going back to their previous residences in a different country. Pandor has firmly put her foot down on this issue, stating that such requests are beyond her control:
"We cannot compel countries to take back persons, and they cannot open their borders because South Africa asks them to do so… No, we will not be assisting those who wish to return to the countries they were repatriated from after the lockdown."DIRCO Minister Naledi Pandor
Naledi Pandor talks more about repatriation
Thursday's media briefing also revealed that DIRCO has been able to save 'millions' on their repatriation flights, after Sasol helped to provide jet fuel for SAA's fleet. Meanwhile, foreigners wishing to leave South Africa can ask the department for legal help, but they won't get a cent in financial aid:
DIRCO has repatriated over 5 000 South Africans and are still to assist more.
- All remaining repatriation flights will be subject to clearance from local Embassies and High Commissions.[*]The numerous repatriation exercises have cost DIRCO just under R10 million.[*]Jet fuel from Sasol has been used on the SAA flights chartered for repatriation, dramatically reducing costs.[*]Foreign nationals currently locked down in SA will be assisted to travel home by DIRCO, but the department won't pay costs.
“We implemented this process to assist our nationals who were in distress - those stranded at airports, students who were asked to evacuate their places of residence as many countries were implementing #lockdown, the elderly & those who needed medical attention.” - Dr Pandor pic.twitter.com/vHpjuEojQy— DIRCO South Africa (@DIRCO_ZA) May 21, 2020