Thousands repatriated to SA, but some want to go back overseas: Pandor

International relations minister Naledi Pandor provided an update on Tuesday on the government's progress in bringing home South Africans stranded outside the country during the lockdown.
International relations minister Naledi Pandor provided an update on Tuesday on the government's progress in bringing home South Africans stranded outside the country during the lockdown.
Image: Alon Skuy

International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor says thousands of South Africans have been repatriated since the closure of international travel — but not everyone is home yet.

“We are in constant discussion with colleagues in other foreign ministries, with ministries of transport, with airlines ... and I am happy that we have had thousands of South Africans come back,” she said.

However, she said not everybody was back yet.

“It is a huge task that government has to undertake, along with those who wish to assist.”

She said the team in her department's command centre had been fantastic, with some of them working up to 18 hours a day.

The 24-hour command centre was established in Pretoria to receive calls for assistance from South Africans who were unable to contact foreign missions as they sought to be repatriated.

“I am thrilled at the work they have done,” said the minister.

She said the department was also now having to look at arrangements for South Africans who have permanent residence overseas and others who have work arrangements outside SA.

“They would like to return to their jobs as countries open up.”

Pandor was speaking in an interview with SAfm on Tuesday morning, where she was giving the government's position on Israel's plan to annex other parts of the West Bank from Palestine.

“We are really quite astounded at this plan that has been announced by Israel. We believe that this goes totally against international law and existing UN resolutions,” she said.

“We do not think it will assist with bringing peace and stability to the region — and [it] does not address the need for the people of Palestine to have their own sovereign state, where they enjoy human rights and the freedoms all of us hope they will enjoy one day.”


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