Rescue mission snub touches off Zim, SA row

Itai Mushekwe



A MESSY tug of war is brewing between Zimbabwe and South Africa following the refusal by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) to grant air evacu

ation clearance to the International SOS air medical team of South Africa this week for unspecified reasons.


The impasse deepened following moves by the South African medical service provider to take up the issue with their Foreign Affairs department and Zimbabwe diplomats to explain the reasoning behind what they called a “strange decision”.


Medical director of International SOS, Fraser Lamond, told the Zimbabwe Independent on Tuesday that his organisation was going to write a “formal letter” seeking explanation on why Caaz revoked their clearance to have a South African patient evacuated for urgent medical attention.


The patient had been involved in a car crash in Zimbabwe.


Lamond said International SOS were no longer sure as to “whether it had become policy for Caaz to refuse them clearance to evacuate their clients from Zimbabwe”.


“Caaz are refusing to grant authority for the International SOS air medical team to evacuate patients from Zimbabwe even when their own members (Zimbabwean members of International SOS) sought evacuation though SOS,” Lamond said.


SOS Johannesburg is taking up the matter with their Department of Foreign Affairs and the South African Civil Aviation Authority.


They are also going to the press in South Africa as this removes the patient’s rights to choose a service provider of their choice, said Lamond, who wondered whether the decision by Caaz was “closing skies to SA flights”.

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