A Galway couple have been left stranded in South Africa due to a government enforced lockdown of the country’s borders in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Dudley Hayden and his wife, Anne, from Oranmore, were holidaying in Cape Town when South African president Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday March 23 that the country would go into a 21 day lockdown from midnight on March 26.
Mr Hayden says that despite regular contact with the the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland and the Irish Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, they have been unable to secure a flight back home to Ireland.
Mr Hayden said; “We arrived on March 12 and were supposed to go back on March 22. But what happened was Ireland announced it was shutting down a lot of non essential businesses so we said we would extend our holiday to the 27th which we did. A day or so later the South African government announced a complete shutdown from midnight on March 26 so we had two to three days to try and change our flights.
“We camped out at the airport to try and change flights but this was impossible as all seats were booked. The airport in Cape Town was absolute pandemonium. We are in constant talks with foreign affairs and waiting for expatriation which isn’t guaranteed, however. We have followed all the advice and are hoping for expatriation back to Ireland so fingers crossed. The Irish Embassy in Pretoria has been excellent in their communication with us.
“The lockdown here finishes on April 16 and we have flights booked for April 18. I’m in contact with other Irish [people in South Africa] who could only manage [to book] flights for April 28.”
Mr Hayden who works as a hypnotherapist in Galway says that going outside for anything other than essential supplies has been forbidden by the government with police patrolling the streets.
He said; “We are minding our well being as best we can which is tricky due to all the uncertainty. On day one of lockdown here, the local Tesco got robbed at gunpoint while we were next door getting essentials at another shop.
“Having to stay here is extremely tough as we are not allowed to even go for a walk. We can’t walk a dog or go anywhere. You can’t walk outside of your home or drive to a lagoon or beach at all, otherwise you will be locked away. We are currently getting out every morning in our car to feed a local homeless guy before the police are on the streets.
“It’s pretty rough but we are safe for now.”