SA surfing icon Jordy Smith and his wife were in Hawaii to prepare for the upcoming global surf tour. Picture: EPA/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
SA surfing icon Jordy Smith and his wife were in Hawaii to prepare for the upcoming global surf tour. Picture: EPA/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Repatriated South Africans stranded at OR Tambo now in quarantine

By Bongani Hans Time of article published May 5, 2020

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Johannesburg - Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) has distanced itself from an incident where a group of repatriated South Africans, including surfer Jordy Smith, were stranded for hours at OR Tambo International Airport. 

Media reports on Monday indicated the group of 200 travellers had arrived at about 5pm on Sunday, but instead of being allowed to leave the tarmac in order to be transported  to a quarantine venue, they were kept on the tarmac for about five hours without being offered an explanation. 

However, Acsa spokesperson Betty Maloka said the airport was caught up in the incident because of being a landing venue, and it had nothing to do with the delay.

“The airport does not have a role to play as we facilitate passengers, while Home Affairs deals with passports. 

“There is the Department of Health that must do the screening such as checking the temperatures of the people when they arrive and organising the quarantine,” said Maloka.

She said the Department of Public Works was responsible for quarantine venues.  

It has been reported that the travellers’ frustration started while they were in Washington as people were not sure whether their flight ticket had been issued even though they had paid for them. They allegedly had to wait for 10 hours before they were allowed to board while others whose tickets were not available were left behind. 

South African surfing champion Smith, who with his wife had been in Hawaii to prepare for the global surf tour, told News24 that when the plane landed at about 4.35pm a temperature test was done before they were let out. 

"We were told we were going to a government facility to be put into quarantine for 14 days. And now we've been sitting on the tarmac for about five hours.

“"We have been sitting on the ground here for plus minus five hours and it's freezing cold. There are about 270 South Africans all just standing around with nowhere to go," he said.  

Maloka said she believed the matter had since been resolved and travellers had proceeded to the quarantine venue.

Political Bureau

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government's 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or go to SA Coronavirus for more information.

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