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Desperate Surrey Estate family trying to return from Thailand

A desolate Bangkok airport in Thailand. Picture: Reuters

A desolate Bangkok airport in Thailand. Picture: Reuters

Published Apr 8, 2020

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Cape Town – A Surrey Estate family stranded in Thailand has appealed to the government to help them return home.

Reports say thousands of locals abroad were unable to leave before flights from high-risk Covid-19 countries were denied entry to South Africa.

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They remain stranded at airports, in hotels or in residential areas. Speaking to the Cape Times, Washielah Essack said the 10-day trip she had planned with her husband and three children had turned out to be disastrous. 

The family had expected to return to Cape Town on April 1.

Essack flew to Bangkok this week with her family as lockdown restrictions are tightening in Phuket.

“Our airline suspended its flights, which meant we had to find another airline to take us home,” she said.

They had been scrambling to find an airline to bring them home, and were in fear as Thailand’s lockdown regulations were changing constantly.

“We contacted our travel insurer and they told us that Covid-19 is not covered, even though we are now stranded. We have spent, thus far, an additional R80 000 on an additional flight, which was suspended, and on additional living expenses,” she said.

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They had asked the South African embassy in Bangkok, and several organisations in South Africa, for help.

Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said 150 South African citizens were repatriated at the weekend, with seven flying home from Nigeria and the rest across the country’s land borders

“We are doing our best to get South Africans stranded abroad back home. We ask them to register with our missions so they can be kept abreast of developments regarding the form of assistance the missions are able to provide.” South Africans stuck abroad are urged to contact the Dirco command centre at 012 351 1754 and 012 351 1756 or via email at [email protected] and [email protected]

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Cape Times

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