SA bars Italian, turns up in Harare

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THE South African government yesterday turned back a Zimbabwean private charter aircraft on landing at OR Tambo International Airport carrying an Italian national, as the country continues to tighten its immigration laws following the outbreak of COVID-19.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

In a statement, South Africa’s Transport minister Fikile Mbalula called for investigations into the unauthorised landing of the chartered flight at OR Tambo International Airport.

“At approximately 1230 hours on Wednesday April 1, a private charter aircraft landed at OR Tambo International Airport from Harare, Zimbabwe, with one passenger on board,” part of the statement read.

“The flight was not cleared by the Department of Transport as required in terms of the current protocols in force during the lockdown. The passenger and crew were held at the airport while the airport sought guidance on how to handle the flight.”

The statement further added: “A decision was made that the passenger, an Italian national holding a South African passport, would not be allowed to enter the country. The passenger initially refused to leave, but with intervention of the South Africa Police Services the flight left the South African airspace returning to Harare, Zimbabwe.”

Transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza was not picking calls on his mobile phone for a comment.

Last night, the Italian’s whereabouts could not be established.

The Health ministry also did not release a statement on whether he was quarantined or put in isolation.