Botswana has advised its citizens to suspend or postpone travel to South Africa following an upsurge in incidents of violence targeting certain foreign traders in that country.
Princess Marina Hospital this week said following a warning by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, they decided to take the “decision looking at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s (Botswana) advice that Batswana should delay their travel to South Africa until the situation normalises.”
While she said her warning should not be construed as banning travel to South Africa, Foreign Affairs Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi told The Telegraph in a brief interview that Batswana who intend to travel to South Africa should postpone or suspend unnecessary travel.
“If it is necessary to travel there at least they should use roads or routes that are safe to avoid falling victims of the xenophobic attacks,” she said. She added that her ministry was concerned by the safety of Batswana, especially those studying in South African institutions. She thus advised students to desist from making unnecessary trips or movements into areas hit by the xenophobic attacks.
“Students should heed the advice from institutions where they are studying because they are in the custody of those academic institutions,” she said.
Venson-Moitoi said that while there is no news of any Motswana being hurt in the attacks, “We are pleading with parents whose children are studying in South Africa to help us talk to students to discourage them from travelling unnecessarily. The situation is not safe and we are asking them to take precautions.”
Botswana High Commission in South Africa has also been instructed “to keep a close eye on the safety of students, and offer them prompt assistance whenever the situation required.”
In a statement, Princess Marina Hospital said it has decided to suspend with immediate effect routine patient referrals to all hospitals in South Africa due to the sporadic xenophobia attacks.
“This was done to take into consideration safety of our staff and patients. We are aware that these attacks are happening in few areas in South Africa, but can have ripple effects. However referral arrangements for patients with life threatening conditions and emergencies will continue. Transportation of patients with the above mentioned conditions has been done to avoid loss of life,” reads the statement.
The Hospital said travel arrangements for patients who have been discharged in South African Hospitals have been done through Healthshare Integrated Solutions and the Botswana Consulate in Johannesburg.
“Private ambulances from South Africa will collect patients at the border post or use Medical Rescue International Air support as usual. The same arrangement will be made for discharged patients in South Africa,” she said.