Dear South Africans, I trust that you are safe and well under the circumstances. My deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones from COVID-19 and a speedy recovery to people in hospitals, nursing homes and in isolation owing to the virus.
I arrived in the United States, as the local COVID-19 epidemic was taking root. We are all alarmed at the rate at which this disease has spread and the escalating mortality rate. In response, we have had to scale down operations in order to protect workers and the public. Even so, we remain open to service our fellow South Africans.
In the midst of the travel restrictions which have been introduced globally; a sizeable number of people find themselves stranded in the United States. We have responded to numerous enquiries from people who have reached out to us and we have been working tirelessly to find ways of getting you home. It has been a complex process, as it involves South Africans who are widely spread across the United States for a number of reasons.
Compatriots, the flight that we hoped would leave Washington, D.C. for South Africa on 20 April 2020 has not been confirmed as there are many factors to be considered for such an exercise. The only flight that left the United States from Miami during the lockdown period was chartered by a caring employer for his employees on 15 April 2020.
As Ambassador of South Africa in the United States of America, I am committed to providing you with the official information as we work on the project of repatriation led by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and other agencies.
Guided by our philosophy of UMuntu nguMuntu NgaBantu; we are determined to demonstrate the caring Government that we are. Accordingly, the South African Embassy in Washington DC and our Consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York; will continue to render Consular Services to all stranded South African Citizens abroad.
The South African Embassy has attended to over a thousand enquiries from distressed South African Nationals. All of the enquiries received are being considered and we have developed a database for possible repatriation. We are sensitive to the fact that it is taking longer than we all would like to see.
My team and I commit to leave no stone unturned to ensure that we reach an acceptable solution.
I wish to emphasise that the South African Embassy and our Consulates are the official source of information regarding repatriation.
Please remain safe and continue to observe the social-distancing measures in place within your various States.
We thank you for your patience.
Issued by the Embassy of South Africa in Washington, DC on 19 April 2020.