Circle City Info

Mr President, I went from risking my life on SAA’s Wuhan flight to starving at Christmas

It was in 2020 February when I received a text from SAA asking for volunteers to do a Wuhan repatriation flight.

At the time South Africa had no cases of Covid-19.

When 14 of us (cabin crew members) and 4 pilots decided to do the flight, we were criticised by our own colleagues and South Africa itself, we were called names and I remember one province saying they don’t want us quarantined there.

Changes were made every day for us to be kept safe

Our lives were in danger but that was not our main focus. Our focus was to bring our people back home to be united with their families.

It was such a difficult decision for me, a decision which I’d expected to be easy as I believed being human means caring for others and being patriotic.

But little did I know how my decision would be taken.

We had glitches from the day of takeoff to the day we landed back home. It was the bravest decision I’d ever taken.

I remember the prayer we made as we landed in Wuhan.

I remember the songs we sang,

Hoya Rona

(e re magwala a cheche) magwala a cheche, a chechele morao

hoya rona ba pelo tse thata ko pele

Chorus

(hoya rona) hoya rona (hoya rona) hoya rona

(hoya rona) hoya rona

ba pelo tse thata ko pele [x2]

Verse

(e re magwala a cheche) magwala a cheche, a chechele morao

hoya rona ba pelo tse thata ko pele [x2]

I was happy to be serving my country, I was willing to die for my country.

I was willing to travel countries to even get the equipment our country needed so we could fight this pandemic

I remember on the last day of quarantine and when we were told none of us had tested positive for Covid-19, the joy that we had, we were celebrating but more than anything we had proven ourselves to our families, our colleagues and South Africa.

That morning we received calls in our rooms and we were told to prepare ourselves because President Cyril Ramaphosa was on his way to see us.

I was so excited but more than anything I was protective of our safe space, our Green zone that the media was going to invade. We all were.

Nonetheless, we were happy that we’d be meeting The President.

Tears rolled down as he spoke to us.

I was so proud of myself and for serving the country the way that I had done.

Come to think of it, I’d do it again if given a chance to do so. Just to save lives. The lives of our people.

Fast forward to today, life has been tough. Very tough

I decided to sign and take VSP (voluntary severance pay) after the airline told us they wanted to let some people go as it cannot afford to pay us anymore.

I didn’t want the airline to liquidate as I had worked for this company since 2008.

I had so much faith that it would be pulled through and that someday I’ll find myself working for it again.

And I’m sure many of us who’ve left feel the same way.

My last day was on the 31 August 2020.

2020 was a very tough year for everyone. For me and my family.

At one point I found myself baking and selling biscuits in the streets just so I can provide for my family.

That business didn’t go far as people are scared of Covid-19.

People are sceptical to buy from the streets so I ended up closing it.

I have received so much help and so much support from family members and friends.

South African Airways has taken us from pillar to post.

They have made our lives a living hell.

They took our medical aids from us even when we needed it the most. And at the time we were still working for them.

Over the past months, I have seen many of my colleagues dying while waiting for their money, dying because of stress and many other issues, perhaps because they can’t provide for their families anymore.

Some have lost their homes and had to go back to live in the back rooms of their homes.

We served this company with our all, we kept the flag up no matter what.

We made sure those customers came back.

This past December was the worst for us who left the airline.

We spent Christmas with no food to feed our children.

I had to tell my kids that I didn’t have money to buy them presents.

I’m not sure of how I feel right now, Mr President.

I’ve been angry at you and got to a point of forgiving you and praying for you instead.

I’m full of disappointment of how this whole thing has been handled, of how you haven’t done anything or intervened in our case.

To this day we are owed over 8 months’ salary and because of desperation we ended up settling for 3 months.

And to my surprise, even that 3 months was way too little for 3 months’ salary. So many deductions that I don’t understand, and because I’ve been hurt so much by this company, I have no power left in me to fight.

Today marks the 3rd of February 2021 and I’ve received no communication from the airline regarding my VSP money, VSP money which was promised to us by the 31st January 2021 and so far, nothing has been said to us.

All I do is hear from the media and everywhere else but SAA.

Right now I have no idea where I’ll get money to pay for my kids’ fees, my Unisa fees and my accommodation.

Mr President, I expect you to put yourself in my shoes or if I were your child going through what I’m going through.

What would you do Your Excellency?

May you receive this well

Regards

Anonymous

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Welkom City Stad Facebook Page or Circle City Info

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