SANDF ‘unwilling’ to fly South Africans from Wuhan

Posted by Anita Froneman on 6 March 2020

Everything is ‘prepared and ready’ for the evacuation of 151 South African citizens currently still in Wuhan, China, but South African Defence Force staff are allegedly hesitant to man the airplane.

‘We do have an aircraft that is ready to go. There are no warm bodies that want to go to China, as they fear the risk,’ a senior official who is ‘intimately familiar with the discussions’ told The Mail & Guardian.

‘Honestly, no one can force them to go there if they don’t want to. For real, no one expected things to go as smoothly as the government had thought,’ they added.

However, SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said otherwise: ‘I do not have any knowledge of the non-availability of a crew for this mission. As far as I know everything is in place as has been planned.’

The government released a statement in which they say that ‘the aircraft with the capacity to bring back the citizens in Wuhan has been secured. ‘An interdisciplinary team of relevant departments including health, home affairs, social development and the defence force will form part of the repatriation team from China to South Africa.’

The decision to repatriate South African citizens who choose to come home was made last week Thursday, 27 February. International relations and health departments have confirmed their part in planning such an operation.

This news comes amid panic as the first case of coronavirus in South Africa was confirmed yesterday, March 4.  The 38-year-old man who returned from Italy was part of a group of 10 people.

Anyone who experiences flu-like symptoms or suspect they might be infected after travelling are urged to not go to a hospital but rather call the coronavirus hotline on 0800029999.

Image: Twitter/ Brice Marandela


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