South Africans stranded in Myanmar have banded together as there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for them to return home.
The Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) has been working to bring home many South Africans stuck in foreign countries, but due to borders being closed some in Myanmar are yet to be assisted.
Now, with the help of a former student, Theresa Rossouw and others may now have a way home.
Rossouw has been stranded in that country with friends Klaus Konig and Petra van der Merwe.
“We are working with Dirco on this side and we have someone that is willing to assist us. The person is putting together a chartered flight. It is an old school pupil of mine from way back when I was a teacher, and he is in aviation. He now lives in Canada. He saw stories of our plight and said he would try and arrange something,” Rossouw said.
She said the plans made them hopeful and they would find out by today how many people would be on the trip.
“The guy organizing it is busy allocating all the numbers and they are looking at people stuck in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Mumbai. All these numbers depend on those that are willing to pay,” she said.
She said they created a WhatsApp group of those needing assistance and among them is Luke van Rooyen, whose family got in touch with Rossouw to ask for assistance as he was stranded there alone.
Luke’s father, Steven van Rooyen, said his son’s visa had expired and he was paying a daily fine for exceeding his stay.
“He was working there for a year, teaching English. His contract ended in March and so did his visa.
“When he goes to the consulate for assistance they say they can’t assist him and he has to pay a $3 (R55.77) fine every day. I cannot afford it, I am staying in an old age home,” Van Rooyen said.
Dirco has refuted a press statement that did the rounds earlier this week alleging that the South African government had pulled the plug on Qatar Airlines to repatriate South Africans.
“The department is continuing discussions with the airline to repatriate South Africans in line with the rules and regulations stipulated by the government.
“The repatriation of South Africans is a humanitarian mission that has been co-ordinated by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints) with the guidance of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), chaired by the president.
“All the repatriation efforts are co-ordinated with Natjoints to make sure these efforts are compliant with the lockdown regulations.”
Dirco said that 3400 of 3637 South Africans who initially indicated through this country’s missions that they want to be repatriated have been brought back home.