International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Naledi Pandor, says the department will not pay for South Africans who were repatriated and now want to return to their places of work overseas.

Pandor says the department has been receiving requests from people who intend to go back overseas and want the department to foot the bill. This as lockdown restrictions begin to ease in some parts of the world.

Pandor says the department will facilitate travel arrangements where possible, but will not pay for anyone to fly back.

More than 5 239 South Africans stranded abroad have since been repatriated.

Amongst those who have contacted the department are those who hold permanent residency overseas, work or study abroad.

“The one(s) I was referring to that are seeking payment by Dirco for them to go back are those that said to us, ‘I’m in distress, help me get back to South Africa’. Now they are saying ‘I want to go out of South Africa’.”

”We are unable to bear the cost of that. We brought people home, we repatriated on the basis that they said I am ordinarily a resident in South Africa and I wish to be helped to return home. It is the lockdown that has prevented me from returning,” explains the Minister.