Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency

SA may have to send charter flight to France to repatriate citizens, Mbalula hints

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Mar 21, 2020

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Johannesburg - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Friday hinted that President Cyril Ramaphosa may have to send a charter flight to repatriate South Africans stuck in France. 

Mbalula was speaking during a press conference on travel ban regulations at OR Tambo International Airport. 

He said the strict measures which were being implemented in South Africa were also finding expression towards South Africans in other parts of the world. 

He explained that South Africa could not deny citizens who wanted to come home as it was their right. He reinforced, however, that South Africa would not allow citizens from high-risk countries to enter the country. 

High-risk Covid-19 countries include China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Germany, the UK and the US.

“We have to assist our citizens to come back home. Constitutionally, we can’t bar them,” said Mbalula. 

It is unclear how many South Africans are on board a vessel which docked in France.

“We have citizens of the country who are somewhere in the sea in France and those countries have closed them out, they are crying for the president to help,” said Mbalula. 

He said the South African government may have to charter a flight to fetch the citizens just as Germany was sending four chartered flights to fetch its citizens who are stuck at the port in Cape Town on a cruise ship.

“At the end, it is about the preservation of our country's interest,” said Mbalula. 

Said Mbalula of the citizens stuck in France: “We may have to fetch them and evacuate them like we did with Wuhan."



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