AIRPORTS Company SA has put in place extensive physical measures, including self-service check-in kiosks, to minimise unnecessary contact, as well as staff training to give effect to the level 3 regulations.  Photo: Courtney Africa African News Agency (ANA)
AIRPORTS Company SA has put in place extensive physical measures, including self-service check-in kiosks, to minimise unnecessary contact, as well as staff training to give effect to the level 3 regulations. Photo: Courtney Africa African News Agency (ANA)

Pressure mounts on govt to unlock borders for 3000 stranded citizens

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Jun 5, 2020

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Pretoria - The pressure is mounting on the government to unlock borders and facilitate the return of more than 3 000 citizens, particularly those in neighbouring countries, who have been stranded due to the lockdown since March.

On Wednesday, three government departments, International Relations and Co-operation, Health and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, were served urgent court papers by AfriForum to force them to facilitate the return of the citizens.

The DA has also joined the battle for the return of the “stranded citizens”.

AfriForum in its application to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria wants the court to declare the closure of the borders and the mandatory 14 days quarantine of the affected citizens unconstitutional and invalid.

In order to remedy the defect, AfriForum's Alana Bailey, who submitted an affidavit in court, asked the court that their proposed regulation should read as follows: 

“All persons arriving from outside of the republic through any port of entry will be subjected to medical testing for Covid-19 and mandatory self-isolation for a period of 14 days unless unable to self-isolate at home.”

The government has been given until Friday to indicate whether it will oppose the application. If the parties can’t settle, a court date has been set for June 17 for arguments.

Detailing reasons for their application, Bailey said they wanted to find solutions to the many problems facing South African citizens who were stranded abroad, saying that included the fact that they were still required to spend a minimum of 14 days in quarantine in a state facility, while most had the ability, and would prefer, to isolate themselves.

“Furthermore, they also have problems in some facilities with the amenities and service, but there is no formal channel through which these issues can be addressed quickly and effectively. Slow repatriation processes, poor communication and late testing for the virus cause them additional unnecessary distress,” Bailey said.

She added that they made the urgent application after the court ruling on Wednesday in their favour did not include the stranded citizens. “The court order against forced admission into the state’s quarantine facilities only applies to people who have been in the country all the time since the inception of Covid-19,” Bailey said

Darren Bergman, the DA’s spokesperson on international relations and co-operation, urged the department to work with its embassies, particularly in Namibia and Mozambique, to "bring the stranded back home”.

Political Bureau

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