The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s announcement that airlines will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity seating.
On Monday, Mbalula relaxed air travel regulations after the only airports operating in phase 1 of lockdown Level 3 were OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport, and King Shaka.
The minister said while addressing the media that 100% capacity seating in airlines was due to the fact that they are fitted with air filters that absorbed any type of virus, which the EFF condemned.
In a statement, the EFF said: “Nothing comes close to utter madness than this assertion. It’s not only unscientific, but dangerous. Mbalula is electively conspiring for the mass infection of our people which will result in mass murder.”
The red berets highlighted that airlines were a focal point to the spread of Covid-19 across the world.
“If Mbalula’s logic was true, Covid-19 would have never arrived in South Africa or any other country in the world.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) identified one method of prevention from Covid-19 as social distancing because all respiratory illnesses are spread through the surfaces upon which the droplets of infected persons land, like airplane seats.
“Unless sanitised, Covid-19 virus lasts long, even for hours. No amount of high-efficiency particulate air filters will protect people who are close to each other, travelling even for minutes to their destinations,” the party said.
The EFF further said that social distancing, particularly in public transport, was non-negotiable if the aim was to protect people’s lives.
“Mbalula’s decision goes against the WHO recommendations and will lead to the massive spread of Covid-19 in our country. We, therefore, call on Ramaphosa to reverse this decision. It is based on pseudo-science, and obviously murderous.
“It can only be justified on the basis that the white monopoly controlled aviation industry seeks to make profits at the expense of people’s lives. This single decision encourages others within the transport sector like taxis and buses to also operate at 100% capacity so it must be condemned and reversed to avoid loss of life,” the party added.
Here are the relaxed air travel regulations:
- All international flights for repatriation.
- Medical emergency international travel will be allowed so that citizens will be allowed to receive treatment back home.
- The following domestics airports will reopen: Bram Fischer International Airport, Kruger Mpumalanga Airport, Pietermaritzburg Airport, Port Elizabeth Airport, Richards Bay airport, Upington International Airport and Skukuza Airport from the 1 July.
- Agriculture spraying, aerial advertisement, towing, search and rescue will be allowed.
- Approved regional re-positioning flights for all South African and foreign-registered aircraft into and from South Africa for return after maintenance and repair, to perform maintenance and repair.