Johannesburg – Joss Potgieter is eager to return home. She is one of more than 150 South Africans who will be returning home from China as fears over Covid-19 continue to grow.
Potgieter, originally from Durban, is a teacher in Wuhan, where the first case of infection with the coronavirus was reported in November last year.
“I have indicated that I will be returning to South Africa and be evacuated,” Potgieter told Weekend Argus from her flat in Wuhan.
“I’m very relieved. We are awaiting further information on quarantine premises and connectivity, etc, as a lot of those being evacuated do need to be connected to their companies here in China and carry out online teaching.”
While many South Africans living in China said they were afraid to return home after reading threatening messages on social media, Potgieter wasn’t one of them. Locals had taken to social media, slamming expats who planned to return home.
But Potgieter said many South Africans were misguided.
“I am not afraid. As much as we understand that everyone is frightened, we are going through a quarantine process and none of us have had any symptoms over the last six weeks. We are all in good health and will go along with what is suggested to ensure the best precautions are taken.”
She said the negative posts on social media had also not affected her decision to return to Durban.
“Most people have not and will not go through what we’ve been through and so I understand that they wouldn’t comprehend the emotional and psychological toll it can take on us.
“I’m luckily very strong in nature and I believe in prayer. The prayers of my loved ones and their constant support has meant I am in a good place.”
“We do feel disappointment at how some South Africans feel however. But as mentioned before, I understand the fear and that is why we are following the steps of the government.”
Potgieter said life had been quiet since the lockdown in the city of Wuhan.
“I have been alone since January 23. I wouldn’t say that I haven’t had human contact as the local government checks on me and takes my temperature and I have to collect food downstairs so there is very limited contact.”
Potgieter said she was pleased with the reaction of the South African government.
“They have responded to all our questions as decisions have been made. Even if they don’t have answers at this stage, they will inform us that they don’t via email.”
Another South African who can’t wait to return home is Portia Makhuvha.
Makhuvha, who lives in Wuhan with her husband, said they had been battling with life under lockdown and wanted to come back home to South Africa as soon as they could.
“I’m ready to come home. I have been counting down every second. I cannot wait to be home with my son and family.”
Makhuvha said she wasn’t afraid to return home, despite the negative social media posts over the last week.
“I understand their concerns and I think it’s only because they don’t have as much information as we do here,” said Makhuvha.
“We are at the centre of the virus and we have equipped ourselves with the knowledge of understanding Covid-19, so people at home should not be worried about us who are under lockdown in China.
“People at home should be worried about people coming from other countries who have not been quarantined. We are aware that there are several countries that are affected by the virus and they are coming in and out of SA without supervision, that is really who South Africans should be worried about.”
Makhuvha added that the Chinese government had been doing their best to look after everyone in the province.