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SA investigates unsanctioned plane that landed at OR from Zim

The South African government has called for a full investigation into an incident involving an Italian national who landed at OR Tambo International Airport from Harare, Wednesday, on an unauthorised private chartered plane from Zimbabwe.

In a statement issued Thursday, South Africa’s Transport Ministry said its minister, Fikile Mbalula, called for a thorough investigation into the incident and consequence management should any wrong doing be found.

“Approximately at 12.30 Wednesday, April 1, 2020, a private charter aircraft landed at OR Tambo International Airport from Harare, Zimbabwe with one passenger on board. The flight was not cleared by the Department of Transport, as required in terms of the current protocols in force during the lockdown (period also underway in South Africa),” said the ministry.

The passenger and the crew were held at the airport whilst the airport sought guidance on how to handle the flight.

“Subsequently a decision was made that the passenger who is an Italian national, holding a South African passport would not be allowed to enter the country,” said the transport ministry.

“The passenger initially refused to leave but with the intervention of the South African Police Service (SAPS), the flight left the South African airspace at 19.50 returning to Harare.”

South Africa’s transport ministry said the department was working closely with its aviation entities to review the applicable protocols to make sure only flights with necessary approval are allowed to enter the country’s airspace.

“This requires seamless coordination between the Department of Transport and the Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS) and the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA),” noted the ministry.

When asked to explain on twitter what kind of lockdown Zimbabwe was implementing that allowed chartered planes to cross, when in other countries that was considered a violation, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Nick Mangwana, said “(It is) Lockdowns in which we allow planes to land and refuel, chief. We are still receiving cargo and SI 83 of 2020 is clear on what is not permissible.”

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