DURBAN – A group of 180 South African citizens were sent to the wrong quarantine site, which did not have any food, water or electricity after being repatriated from the United States.
Public Works Minister, Patricia de Lille has called for an urgent investigation into the matter.
According to de Lille, the group was among the 245 passengers that arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday. As the passengers were being transported to their respective sites, some of the health officials diverted 180 of them to Eskom, Transnet and Telkom facilities. These facilities were not authorised by the Department of Public Works.
“People were dumped there. Some of the people were without food for 15 hours,” added De Lille.
Another group of people who had arrived from the U.S on Sunday evening were stranded for hours on the tarmac. De Lille stated that the repatriated South Africans should have checked-in their hotels provided by the department, on Sunday night. Her concern was over them not being placed in quarantine.
Fast forward to Monday morning, De Lille’s office finds out that the repatriated South Africans are still on the tarmac. They then give the order to have the repatriates transported to their quarantine sites.
Regarding the 180 South Africans that were transported to the wrong venue, De Lille says that they were moved by the health department. “Because the Department of Health took those people to those venues, we said the national department of health must transport those people back to their hotels,” added the Minister.
“The national Department of Health said they would not do it because it was the provincial department of health that identified those (wrong) sites,” said De Lille.
De Lille also mentioned that miscommunication between the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and other government structures is what led to the group being stranded on the tarmac.
However, ACSA spokesperson Betty Maloka said the airport was “caught up” in the incident because it was a landing venue and had nothing to do with the delay. “The airport does not have a role to play as we facilitate passengers while home affairs deals with passports,” added Maloka.
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