Repatriated citizens to be reunited with families

Sunday, March 29, 2020

A heartfelt “thank you” was the central message delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa to stakeholders involved in the repatriation of 112 citizens from Wuhan City, China.

On Sunday, the President saw off 112 South African citizens, who will now be reunited with their families after testing negative for Coronavirus at the end of their quarantine period at The Ranch Resort in Limpopo.

“If there ever was a true representation of Thuma Mina, you are all a representation. For the longest time, we have been talking of Thuma Mina, repeating the song of Bra Hugh Masekela. I cannot think of a single moment when it is really, truly represented in practical terms than this moment and what you have done,” he said.

The President made these remarks at the Ranch Resort in Polokwane, where the citizens were in quarantine since returning from China.

The President thanked members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), as well as South African Airways (SAA) pilots and crew, who were part of the repatriation mission.

The 112, who underwent a 14-day quarantine period having twice tested negative for the virus.

The Ranch staff, who have also been in quarantine, also tested negative.

The President saluted all role players for their patriotism.

“Once the mission was conceptualised, you all said ‘Send Me, Mr President’. You volunteered, you were not commandeered, and you were not drawn and dragged form wherever you were. You just stepped forward and said you want to be sent,” said the President.

The President took his hat off to the group for agreeing to be sent into dangerous territory in Wuhan City, which at the time was the epicentre of pandemic.

“You were going into an unknown territory, the real heart of Coronavirus, but you said you were willing to go. Not many people would voluntarily say they are willing to go into a danger zone.”

He saluted the SAA flight pilot and cabin crew, officials from the SA embassy in China and the Departments of Health and Home Affairs for the roles they played.

The team, together with the evacuees, was quarantined at The Ranch for 14 days. They were initially meant to be at the venue for 21 days as a precaution, but this was later revised to 14 days.  

President Ramaphosa extended a word of gratitude to the families of the volunteers for releasing them to the mission.  

“You are our true heroes. You agreed to go a most dangerous mission [and] flew the South African flag high. As your plane landed in Wuhan, you were flying the South African flag. You demonstrated the true compassion that we have as a nation towards our fellow citizens. You were showing that our country cares,” he said.

Call for precaution

President Ramaphosa called on the country to take precautions in order to stop the spread of the virus. This as South Africa entered a 21-day lockdown period at midnight on 26 March.

“We must recognise that we are in the midst of a huge crisis in the country. Coronavirus is spreading throughout our nation. We must therefore take extra precaution to be safe, and ensure that we still have that distance between us and the next person.”

He also encouraged everyone to wash their hands on a regular basis.

Addressing the evacuees, President Ramaphosa said government was delighted to have them back on home soil and Coronavirus-free.

“I am happy to see you healthy and alive,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za

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