A number of South Africans stranded abroad say they are in dire straits as their passports and visas have expired while their funds are being depleted.
Andrea Valencia, a Colombian married to a South African, said she traveled to Colombia to be with her sick mother and got stuck in Miami on her way home to South Africa.
“I called right away to the embassy in Washington to ask for assistance and they told me there were going to be repatriation flights but only for South Africans citizens.
“I explained the situation, my husband’s medical issues and being alone in Cape Town, also that my visa was going to expire on May 3 and that I have been already living in South Africa for the past eight years with a temporary residence permit.”
Valencia said she sent emails to various government departments asking for assistance, to no avail.
“I am still stuck in Miami. My husband lost his job and he is alone there. He had a stroke last year and I am terribly worried about him. With no savings or job, I really need to be there and support my husband.”
Another South African, who asked not to be named, said coming home would be a costly mission.
“The cost of repatriation for myself and my two kids will be approximately R90 000. I don’t have this kind of money lying around.
“Some people have been stuck in hotels around the world for four months and have run out of money. How are they to get home? The government needs to help its citizens return home.
“It is our human right to be able to return to our country.”
Dirco spokesperson Lunga Nqengelele said they are not sure how many South Africans remained stranded abroad, but the department was doing everything it could to help bring them home.
“We continue to encourage those that are stranded to ask for help and contact our embassies.
“That is how we came to know of the first 300 that we started assisting, through the embassies that they contacted.”
He said they continuously look at options to bring those stranded home.
“To date we have brought home over 16 000 by air and many more through land borders. We are doing our best to assist.”