South Africa: Mission (Almost) Impossible - Trying to Fly Stranded South Africans Back Home


The 'boertjie' who runs Maple Aviation takes flak from all quarters as he tries to bring stranded South Africans home: "I take calls every five minutes from distressed mothers and fathers. And I don't have a massive staff. It's basically just me at my dining room table with my computer in Toronto."

Tertius Myburgh is resigned to being maligned. He's trying to fly stranded South Africans home from the East and they're mostly "gatvol" from being stuck abroad for months because of the coronavirus lockdown.

So they're quick to criticise any delays or other problems. And there have been a heap of those. On Wednesday 8 July, Myburgh was bracing himself for another torrent of abuse on social media. His Boeing 767 aircraft bringing 105 South Africans and 65 Zimbabweans home from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Wuhan, China, was supposed to have been arriving in Johannesburg and Harare the next day.

But a combination of endless bureaucracy and an oil leak in the left engine postponed the flight for several more days, probably until 15 July. Or not.

Myburgh was talking from Toronto which is where he now lives and runs an airline called Maple Aviation from his dining room...

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