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Zimbabwe mum over 'Italian national' turned back from OR Tambo

by Staff reporter
04 Apr 2020 at 12:18hrs | Views
Zimbabwean officials were tight-lipped on Thursday after a charter aircraft originating from Harare was turned away by authorities at OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa – exposing lapses in coronavirus lockdown protocols.

Zimbabwe and South Africa have both imposed lockdown procedures to bring infections under control, including closing their borders.

But the aircraft, a Beech 200 Super King Air owned by Halsted Aviation, was allowed to take off from the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on April 1 and landed at OR Tambo at 12.30PM, South Africa's transport ministry said.

"The flight was not cleared by the department of transport as required in terms of the current protocols in force during the lockdown," South Africa's transport ministry spokeswoman Ayanda Paine said.

On the plane was one passenger, "an Italian national holding a South African passport", according to Paine.

"A decision was made that the passenger… would not be allowed to enter the country. The passenger initially refused to leave, but with the intervention of the South African Police Service, the flight left South African airspace at 7.50PM returning to Harare, Zimbabwe," Paine added.

Zimbabwe government spokesman Nick Mangwana told ZimLive: "The passenger in question is a South African. We are not stopping people from going home, if they are using charter especially."

Mangwana said he had no further information on the whereabouts of the "Italian national". Government protocols say he should be in forced quarantine.

Italy has the world's highest death toll from coronavirus, and revelations that an Italian national had been deported back into the country, and the government's reluctance to share information about how he came to be in the country, drew anger among Zimbabweans on social media.

Source - zimlive