Journalists accompanying S. Africa President stuck in plane in Poland
The crew has been stuck in the plane since Thursday.
Journalist Amanda Khoza from the South African news agency Sunday Times, who is accompanying South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on a visit to Poland and Ukraine within the framework of the African peace mission, said on Friday that she and the group of journalists that were supposed to travel with the South African leader are still stuck in a plane for the second day in a row in the Polish capital of Warsaw due to allegations of weapons transportation.
[ARRIVAL]: His Excellency President @CyrilRamaphosa has arrived at Nemishaeve Railway Station in Ukraine and is received by Ukraine's Special Envoy for Africa & the Middle East Ambassador Maksym Subhk and South African Ambassador to Ukraine Mr Andre Groenewald.… pic.twitter.com/Jk8V8n2v9O— Presidency | South Africa 🇿🇦 (@PresidencyZA) June 16, 2023
As for Ramaphosa, the President has already arrived in Ukraine alone, without his protection service which also remains stuck in the plane, sources say.
Earlier in the day, Khoza said in a tweet that the journalists on board the plane had been asked whether they wanted to get off the plane or remain on the flight with the South African security personnel "because if you leave, you will not be allowed to get back on."
#StuckInthePlane: At this stage, we all just want to shower and brush our teeth, honestly. We've spent the night on the plane. This morning we handed over our passports, even though we are not sure what's the next step. What a horrible experience. @SundayTimesZA pic.twitter.com/DXChpbN7Hy— Amanda Khoza - The Journalist (@MandaKhoza) June 16, 2023
The journalist expressed gratitude to the cabin staff for staying on board and bringing food from a close Burger King and for "trying their best to manage this situation."
Khoza later wrote on Twitter that the "necessary clearance to leave Warsaw, Poland, to Rzezow has been obtained. We are now preparing to leave."
Moments after she posted the Tweet, she wrote that journalists were told that the aircraft would not leave Warsaw.
[BREAKING] We have just been told that we are no longer leaving Warsaw, Poland. Instead, we have been told that we need to disembark and head to customs, make accommodation arrangements. There will be personnel that remains with the cargo. @SundayTimesZA @TimesLIVE pic.twitter.com/6KUk2TfHuq— Amanda Khoza - The Journalist (@MandaKhoza) June 16, 2023
Ramaphosa's security personnel and the group of accompanying journalists have been stuck in the plane since Thursday. The head of the South African president's security service, Major General Wally Rhoode, said that these events indicate that Poland is intentionally trying to disrupt the peace mission in Ukraine.
Poland's customs guard said that Ramaphosa's security personnel voluntarily stayed on the plane as they did not have authorization for weapons transportation. The statement issued by the border guards made no reference to the journalists on the plane who were told they were also not allowed to leave the plane.
The South African leader's visit comes in light of a peace mission that was initially announced on May 16, during which several African countries agreed to take part in a peace initiative with the aim of settling the Ukraine conflict. The countries that partook in this initiative include Zambia, Senegal, the Congo, Uganda, Egypt, and South Africa. The South African President said on May 16 that both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accepted to receive the mission.
Four African Presidents, including Ramaphosa, are scheduled to meet with Zelensky in Kiev on June 16, while a meeting with Putin will be held on June 17.