Government as well as Good Samaritans are working to repatriate over 200 Namibians stranded in coronavirus-hit South Africa.
International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah told New Era yesterday the Namibian mission in South Africa recorded a total number of 228 Namibians who are in that country and who want to come home. South Africa has reported about 3 300 cases of Covid-19 and 58 deaths.
“Some are students, some went for medical treatment, and some went as visitors and others as business people. Some said they have no means of transport to come back. There are some who say they have their own transport to drive home. Others say they can afford to come back by bus. Some say they have valid Air Namibia tickets, while others say they have capacity to pay for their tickets,” Nandi-Ndaitwah said yesterday.
She added a large number of these people indicated they have capacity to pay for their return. According to her, these individuals who wish to return home are scattered all over South Africa. Therefore, she said, once they have a complete list of those people, then government will determine the way forward to repatriate them. Once they return, she said, they will all be required to undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days. She mentioned that over 20 Namibians who are stuck in Angola also indicated that they also want to come home. “People are just coming up and want to come home. We will be having information of Namibians registered of where they are,” she noted. She added it is, however, difficult to repatriate all Namibians across the globe, saying one finds that a country has only one or two residents, which is costly to organise a plane to go fetch few people. Nandi-Ndaitwah urged those who are few in different countries elsewhere to stay put until the Covid-19 situation normalises. Maika Eysselein, a mother of a two-year-old son who went for a heart operation in Cape Town mid-March before the lockdown, is one such person stuck in that country and wants to return home. Eysselein with the assistance of Michaela Tietz-von Leipzig who is a founder of Okanti Foundation in Windhoek are busy raising funds to assist many other Namibians stranded in South Africa to return home. Tietz-von Leipzig said they are trying to assist close to 90 Namibians in South Africa who have indicated they want to return home. Tietz-von Leipzig noted they are in consultation with the Namibian High Commission in South Africa regarding these arrangements. She said they need to raise an amount of N$380 000 to evacuate nationals. “Some of us have children who had heart surgeries, there is really big wounds on their chests. And to put them strapped in the back seat of a car for many hours of travel is really not in the best medical interest for them. We also want to avoid risks and danger through roadblocks. We are asking for the money because we need money to put a plane in the air. We are not asking for freebees,” she told New Era yesterday. She said Good Samaritans have since Friday come on board and donated a collective amount of N$280 000. She is still appealing for donations to assist with the remaining N$100 000 to help pay for the repatriation. Tietz-von Leipzig explained approximately N$180 000 is needed for the flight from Cape Town and N$200 000 for the flight from Johannesburg. “People are asking why we don’t just wait until lockdown is done. I think what people don’t understand is that even if lockdown is done, international borders will not open for travel immediately. Lockdown may be extended again. People who are stuck are those with kids who had heart surgeries and older people with back surgeries and cancer patients. Students are kicked out of hostels and don’t have money to pay accommodation. We just want to come home,” she reacted. Tietz-von Leipzig said a large group of them is there for medical reasons and doctors ordered them not to drive, especially those with back surgeries.
2020-04-22 09:49:27 | 5 months ago