Zimbabweans in S.A press distress button, asks government to repatriate them

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Taruberekera Masara in Pretoria 

Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa David Hamadziripi says they have been inundated with calls from distressed nationals seeking help amid the Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa.

Speaking on a radio program Power Drive on Power 98.7FM radio on Thursday 14 May, Hamadziripi said over 6000 Zimbabwean nationals some seeking repatriation while the others want food parcels.

“We have received calls and messages amounting to more than 6000 from our nationals here in South Africa”,

“From the total 2 600 want repatriation but cannot afford to self fund, over 4 000 others want food parcels” said Ambassador Hamadziripi.

Hamadziripi said currently the Harare administration is seized with assisting citizens who can fund their repatriation.

“The embassy has been focusing more on the repatriation of those who are able to fund themselves.”

He said the Embassy made an application to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to assist its nationals to obtain the necessary permits for them to travel.

Hamadziripi added that they are working with International Organization for Migration and authorities in Zimbabwe in the process of transportation and reception of nationals travelling from South Africa.

“IOM will assist us with screening and ensuring that all who will be travelling are fit to travel and on arrival they will again be screened and go into quarantine”,

“Quarantine is for 21 days but they will be screened again after 7 days, authorities there will certify the status whether they let them go or they continue quarantine for other 14 days” he added.

He however noted that on the distressed nationals who are unable to fund their repatriation but need to go back home the Embassy is coordinating plans to help its nationals.

“We also have another group that are unable to fund their return to Zimbabwe”,

“We are coordinating assistance that will be open to both regular and irregular Zimbabwean nationals as long as they can identify themselves that they are our nationals” he said.

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Zimbabweans who wish to be repatriated will be offered Temporary Travel Documents that is paid for or a Repatriation Certificate that is issued free of charge.

Meanwhile Hamadziripi confirmed that Zimbabwean government had entered into a partnership with South Africa-based businessman Justice Maphosa to carry 400 Zimbabweans back home through the Beitbridge Border Post.

He said a part of the distressed nationals will be provided with transport home under the partnership.

Maphosa of Big-Time Strategic Group said the arrangement follows numerous negotiations led by Zimbabwe’s Embassy in Pretoria and will benefit citizens who could not afford to travel back home.

The embassy also said Zimbabweans who need assistance from the embassy can make online applications or contact this WhatsApp number: 082 824 9435.

South Africa is currently under level 4 four lockdown since 1 May.

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