Government has said it has not sent any buses to ferry Malawians trapped by the Covid-19 outbreak in South Africa.
There has been confusion on the status of the buses which have gone to South Africa with some reports indicating the buses were for free while others saying the people were expected to pay.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ben Botolo said the buses have been organised by some Malawians who are in the South Africa and that the government is only securing their smooth passage through Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
“The procedure requires that from South Africa the people be quarantined for 14 days in Zimbabwe and Mozambique before they are also quarantined upon arrival here in Malawi. What we have only done as government is to seek clearance for them to pass through the two countries and to provide security so that all these processes are done here,” he said.
Thursday, social media was awash with videos purportedly showing Malawians failing to get into the buses back home for various reasons including non-payment of fares.
Botolo said there are 250 people who have expressed interest and ability to pay for their own travel and that these are the people the hired buses are bringing home.
He added that there are no immediate plans for the government to repatriate those who cannot pay their own bus fares at the moment.
“We also need to protect the other Malawians who are here. When they arrive they will have to be quarantined in some facilities and closely monitored. South Africa has many Covid-19 cases and the probability of some of them being infected is high. After we are done with this group we will then start looking at those who cannot pay the bus fare to see what we can do,” Botolo said.
Some Malawians in South Africa have been asking the government to repatriate them back home saying life is unbearable due to restrictions imposed in the country to fight the spread of the virus.
South Africa has over 12,000 confirmed cases with 219 deaths.