News / Covid-19
A desperate father’s plea to bring his son back to South Africa is falling on deaf ears while the young man remains stranded in Madagascar following the lockdown last year.
Francois Basson went to Madagascar in January, last year to work as a scuba diving instructor at a conservation company, only to be left stranded there due to lockdown.
Last week the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) promised to assist the South African but it has since not said a word.
Francois’ father, Dewald Basson, said every time he heard from his son he got upset because he knew how his son felt.
“I spoke to him on Tuesday and he said, ‘dad, it doesn’t even help to get sad any more, or excited, because everything is just empty promises’,” Basson said.
SA scuba diver still stuck in Madagascar thanks to Covid
“There are so many people who say, don’t worry, we will look at what we can do to help. And then it takes a week and two weeks and a month and those months have turned into R140 000 out of my pocket the last 10 months to keep him alive.”
Basson said he could not describe his feeling of despair, wonder and hope.
“It is heartbreaking, really,” he said.
It had cost him, on average, R10 000 to R14 000 a month to keep his son alive, he said.
“That’s just surviving, not to live, to survive. My son looks like a skeleton. He is about [1.83m] tall and if I had to guess, he weighs about 70 kilograms currently.”
Basson said it was so expensive because of the weak exchange rate and the state of the island.
“At this stage, Francois is trying to be strong for me, but I know… He’s my child, I know how difficult it must be for him.”
Basson said it was getting him down.
“I’m a normal salesperson. I don’t earn a lot. I am all borrowed up and begging and pleading for people to help me financially to keep my son alive,” he said.
Basson said he had borrowed money from the company where he worked just to keep him alive. He was at the point of selling his car which would be a bad thing because it was a source of income for him.
“But if it comes to that, if I have to do that to be able to get my child back, I would do it in an eyewink.”
He approached the embassy and Dirco, who simply pulled up their shoulders or said they would look into what they could do, but nothing had happened.
“Do you know how many times I have heard people say they will look at what they can do,” Basson asked.
All he was asking was someone to help him bring back his son, he said.
“I can’t handle another empty promise. I am out of money, and I can’t do it any longer. I’m not asking money. I’m asking help to bring back my child,” he pleaded.
Basson said the only repatriation flights fly to France at the moment.
“I just want my child back with me in South Africa,” Basson said.
Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela said last week the department would be looking into the matter but has not been available for comment since.