or tambo saa 2 runway

Photo: Twitter / Heidi Giokos

OR Tambo chaos: Woman collapses after five-hour wait on the runway

A group of repatriated South Africans ended up in the netherzone on Monday night, after they were made to wait hours on the tarmac at OR Tambo.

or tambo saa 2 runway

Photo: Twitter / Heidi Giokos

Around 275 South Africans landed safely back at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg on Monday night, after an SAA repatriation flight from Washington DC brought them back to home soil. However, the passengers’ problems only began once it was time to leave the plane.

Drama on the OR Tambo runway

Hundreds of them disembarked the aircraft and were left waiting on the runway. This was because the facility which had agreed to keep the group ended their contract with the government, meaning they could no longer quarantine the cohort. All arrivals back in SA must be monitored and isolated for 14 days under the rules of our National Disaster Act.

With nowhere they could legally go, the travellers were left marooned on the OR Tambo tarmac. Hours passed, and as each South African was screened for the disease, it all got too much for one person.

Woman left needing oxygen after five-hour wait

The woman, thought to be of an elderly age, collapsed and was left needing oxygen. The situation was confirmed by DA shadow foreign affairs minister, Darren Bergman, as well as reporters at the scene:

“We’re on the way to have a look at the lady needing oxygen, no chances should be taken there. My colleagues Siviwe Gwarube and Samantha Graham (DA MPs) are doing superb work on the ground to try and raise the alarm, and to get the wheels in motion after nearly six hours stuck on the tarmac.”

Darren Bergman

OR Tambo flight left in the lurch

Shortly before 23:00 – almost six hours after the group first landed at OR Tambo – alternative quarantine accommodation was found and the group were ferried off to a hotel. Nonetheless, the incident was hardly the ‘welcome home’ our compatriots would have been hoping for. Several social media accounts belonging to passengers posted updates of the ensuing chaos last night:

It’s understood that the temporarily stranded crowd were allowed to pass through immigration and collect their luggage in groups of 20 once the accommodation issue had been resolved.