Embassy to Transport 400 From S. Africa

Government has entered into a partnership with South Africa-based businessman Mr Justice Maphosa to carry 400 Zimbabweans back home through the Beitbridge Border Post.

Mr Maphosa is the CEO and founder of Bigtime Strategic Group.

The arrangement follows numerous negotiations led by Zimbabwe’s Embassy in Pretoria and will benefit citizens who could not afford to travel back home.

In a statement yesterday, the Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria said the package will cover the cost of hiring buses for around 400 citizens, the provision of food for the travellers on the trip, and provision of food and personal protective equipment while in quarantine in Zimbabwe.

In addition, the International Organisation for Migration is providing technical support to the embassy in planning and carrying out the voluntary repatriation.

The technical support includes coordination of pre-departure arrangements, pre-embarkation medical check and distribution of Covid-19 related awareness material, said the Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria.

“The pre-embarkation checks will be done before every trip. It should also be noted that upon crossing into Zimbabwe, all the returnees are subjected to mandatory quarantine at designated centres.

“The costs thereof are carried by the Government of Zimbabwe.

“Subsequent communication will be made regarding the assistance for distressed Zimbabwean nationals who elect to remain within the borders of South Africa.”

The embassy has been reaching out to Zimbabweans within South Africa, who are confronting the myriad of challenges, the bulk of which have been brought about by the lockdown.

About 4 000 Zimbabwean migrant workers in South Africa have registered for assistance packages with the embassy.

Many people require food, help to organise their own repatriation with the embassy finding bus companies and organising travel permits, and assisted repatriation back home.

To that end, the Embassy sought travel permits for Zimbabweans in need of self-repatriation, using their own vehicles as well as buses, from South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), and many have since travelled back home while others are still waiting for their travel permits.

Buses to ferry some citizens who are meeting their costs have been found.

The carrying capacity has been limited to 70 percent in order to comply with South Africa’s lockdown regulations for public transport.

But there is a significant number of requests to the Embassy who cannot foot their own travel bills after losing their income in the lockdown.

On arrival in Zimbabwe, the returnees are dropped off at the National Social Security (NSSA) Beitbridge Hotel, which is being used as a quarantine and isolation centre.

They are then profiled, tested for Covid-19 and transported to quarantine centres near their homes.

Already, 227 people who used own transport have been quarantined at the NSSA Hotel, with over 1 000 citizens who were assisted by the Embassy, passing through the centre in the last seven days.

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