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Priority to be given to S.Africans stranded at airports abroad - Pandor

Minister Naledi Pandor said of the 1,471 South Africans were stranded overseas, 723 were students, 204 were employees, 224 were tourists while the status of 320 was unknown.

FILE: International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor. Picture: Dirco.

JOHANNESBURG - International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor on Tuesday said her department would assist South Africans stranded overseas who had no money for flights or accommodation.

Pandor and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula have proposed the relaxation of the COVID-19 state of disaster regulations to allow South Africans to return home and foreign nationals to go home.

However, she has appealed to those who can arrange their own travel to do so.

“The repatriation we’re referring to would be of citizens of South Africa but we can also include members of the international organisations who work in South Africa, holders of permanent residence permits.”

Pandor said of the 1,471 South Africans were stranded overseas, 723 were students, 204 were employees, 224 were tourists while the status of 320 was unknown.

“I directed that priority be given to those who are stranded at airports and say they are sleeping on the floor, have no means for food and those who have no funds, no accommodation.

Pandor said those who could afford to arrange their own travel would be assisted with logistics.

“They will be assisted with obtaining flight clearances for chartered flight in the host countries and will assist them to get permission to depart on such flight and get permission from Minister Mbalula for them to travel to South Africa.”

WATCH: COVID-19 Situation Desk - 31 March 2020 PM

Minister Mbalula said while medical, emergency and humanitarian flights would be allowed to land, crews would not be allowed to disembark.

He said the national command council made exceptions for flights that could land in South Africa during the lockdown.

Mbalula said the agreement was reached after queries were raised following the publication of the regulations.

He has outlined categories of flights that will be allowed to land.

“Medical evacuation flights, aircraft in a state of emergency, overflights – flights that are passing over and need to fill up, technical landing for refuelling and no disembarkation and aircraft operations related to humanitarian aid.”

Mbalula said strict conditions would be adhered to including that crew could not disembark, otherwise they would have to be quarantined for 21 days.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.