'You are our heroes': Ramaphosa to all who helped SA citizens in Wuhan

29 March 2020 - 13:20 By Nonkululeko Njilo
President Cyril Ramaphosa paid a moving tribute on Sunday to volunteers who assisted a group of South Africans who were airlifted from Wuhan in China earlier this month. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa paid a moving tribute on Sunday to volunteers who assisted a group of South Africans who were airlifted from Wuhan in China earlier this month. File photo.
Image: Twitter/Presidency

President Cyril Ramaphosa paid a moving tribute on Sunday to the volunteers who assisted South Africans that were repatriated from Wuhan in China.

The group have tested negative for Covid-19 after 14 days of quarantine at The Ranch resort near Polokwane in Limpopo.

“If there ever was a true representation of Thuma Mina, you are all a representation of Thuma Mina . ... I cannot think of a single moment when it is really truly represented in practice than this moment and what you did,” he said at the resort.

He was addressing SAA pilots and cabin crew, health practitioners and SANDF members who volunteered to carry out the mission.

“Once a mission was conceptualised, you all said 'send me president', you were not commandeered, you were not drawn and dragged from wherever you were, you just volunteered,” said Ramaphosa.

He described the mission as dangerous and said not many people would have volunteered for it.

 “You executed this mission with great distinction, absolute distinction, with precision and great excellence. You made no mistakes ... you did extremely well and we would like to thank you.

“In many ways, you have made history ... You are our heroes,” said Ramaphosa.

SA had recorded 1,187 cases of the virus as of Saturday. Ramaphosas said it remained a crisis.  

“We must also recognise the fact that we are in the middle of a huge crisis in our country, coronavirus is just spreading through our nation, each and everyone of us must take care to be safe.” 

Ramaphosa also expressed gratitude to the South Africans who agreed to go into quarantine.

Heath minister Dr Zweli Mkhize described the day as “emotional and overwhelming”.

“This is a moment of which we are very proud ... you [Ramaphosa] instructed us to undertake a mission, this mission has been successfully accomplished,” he said.

The repatriated group was expected to be released to their loved ones later on Sunday.


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