Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Coronavirus: Mystery over Italian man at RG Mugabe International airport

Johannesburg – Police had to be called in to intervene when an Italian national in a private charter plane that had landed at OR Tambo International refused to leave the country.

Immigration workers wear protective masks at a departure port at Robert Mugabe International airport in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 11, 2020. Picture taken March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
Immigration workers wear protective masks at a departure port at Robert Mugabe International airport in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 11, 2020. Picture taken March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

The plane had one passenger, an Italian national who was allegedly carrying a South African passport and had flown into the country from Zimbabwe and arrived on Wednesday afternoon.

However, his flight had allegedly not been cleared by the Department of Transport as required in terms of the protocols in force during the lockdown.

According to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s spokesperson Ayanda Allie Paine, the passenger and crew were held at the airport as authorities sought guidance on how to handle the flight.

“Subsequently a decision was made that the man, who is an Italian nation holding a South African passport, would not be allowed into the country.

“The passenger initially refused to leave but with the intervention of the police, the flight left the South African airspace returning to Harare, Zimbabwe.

“Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has called for a full investigation into the incident and consequence management should wrongdoing be found to have taken place,” she said.

Allie Paine also said the department, working closely with its aviation entities, was reviewing the applicable protocols to ensure that only flights with the necessary approval were allowed to enter the South African airspace.

“This requires seamless co-ordination between the Department of Transport, the Air Traffic Navigation Services and the Airports Company Services,” she said.

Three weeks ago President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced a travel ban on foreign nationals from high risk countries, including Italy, US, China and Iran, with immediate effect.

He also said visas from high risk countries would also be cancelled. The Star

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