Coronavirus lockdown: Germany to evacuate citizens from South Africa next week
Pretoria – The German government will next week evacuate its citizens from South Africa amidst the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc across the world.
Transport Minister Fikilie Mbalula said the Germans would be leaving South Africa next week – despite the country being on a lockdown which has grounded almost all domestic and international flights and passenger transport across borders.
Mbalula said on Thursday at the Cape Town International Airport there were three outbound flights heading to Frankfurt and Munich in Germany, and also to Zurich in Switzerland, but some people could not secure seats on those flights.
“Unfortunately there were 120 people who could not find seats on any of these flights. The German Consulate was at the airport and provided consular support. Germany has been very cooperative, working with us like many other countries. They are going out of the country, and not coming back,” Mbalula said in Pretoria.
“In terms of the 21-day lockdown, these airlines are not allowed to come back to South Africa for that particular period.”
He said the notice about South Africa being under lockdown has been issued to all international airlines and governments.
Mbalula said a number of South Africans are stranded in Qatar, and that negotiations were underway as Qatar Airways indicated it was prepared to bring them home.
“It’s a matter that we were dealing with. They said they got the message about the lockdown when they were on their way to South Africa, and we explained to them that this message (of the lockdown) was declared (to allow) 72 hours for everybody (to make arrangements to return home). It meant that if you wanted to come home, wherever you are, in those 72 hours you could come back,” said Mbalula.
He said there would be activity at airports in “exceptional circumstances if any private airline could land in South Africa within the 21 days that have been declared a lockdown”.
He added that there had been requests that cargo aeroplanes should be permitted to land in the country and the matter will be reported to the National Command Council which advises President Cyril Ramaphosa on Covid-19 interventions.
Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu on Friday announced that South Africa's latest confirmed Covid-19 infection figure was 1 170 and one confirmed fatality.