Maldives nightmare finally ends for Cape Town man
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Andrew Coetzee must be the happiest man in Cape Town right now.
Coetzee is the man from Mitchell's Plain who endured a nightmare trip to the Maldives - the paradise location famed for its incredible beauty.
Coetzee shared his story exclusively with Weekend Argus on Sunday. And now we are happy to report that he is finally home after being stuck in the Indian Ocean nation for nearly three months.
The 43-year-old diving technician was on a two-week stopover in Maldives enroute to a new job in the Middle East, when he contracted Covid-pneumonia. Coetzee was in an induced coma where he suffered a stroke. He subsequently suffered paralysis in his right hand.
The Maldivian hospital, Indira Gandhi Memorial, where Coetzee was being treated, demanded he settle a nearly R200 000 bill before they would discharge him. When Coetzee spoke to Weekend Argus from his hospital bed at the time, he said: "I ran out of money. I had to pay for my own food. The hospital supported me in the beginning. But then I had to support myself. My wife sent me some money so I can eat."
His wife Avril spoke of her fear during the entire ordeal. "It had taken a toll on us as a family," she said. Avril fought tooth and nail to get Coetzee released. "At one point they (the hospital) said he was coming home. And then at the next point they said someone next to him in the hospital tested positive (for Covid-19) and Andrew needed to isolate for (another) 14 days. "Weeks later, the hospital eventually agreed to release Coetzee, and that the family could pay off the hefty bill.
The Department of International Relations said their hands were tied. The department's spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele said: "The law doesn't allow us as Dirco to financially assist in situations like these."
After a marathon journey home, Coetzee has been enjoying quality time with the family. He told Weekend Argus: "It's been good to be home. The kids are very happy to see me. When I came walking out of the airport, my entire family was excited and happy to see me. The reaction was amazing. They were jumping for joy and holding me. It was some of the best I hugs I got."
Avril said the family was delighted to have Andrew home. "He was even able to fetch our youngest from school, and Quinn was so excited to show everyone his dad is home."
Coetzee said he had also been spoiled with a proper taste of home. "My wife made one of my favourite dishes, delicious oxtail stew. It was the best."
Coetzee said his immediate goal was continuing therapy on his right hand. "I can't use it that much. I will just keep on doing the therapy.