Photo Credit: Niocie Browne and her friend in South Africa. Photo courtesy of Niocie Browne
Traveler Story: ‘I’ve Been Stuck In South Africa and Trying To Get Home’
Niocie Browne’s one week vacation in Cape Town has turned into a more than three-month stay and headache after the coronavirus pandemic shut country borders down.
South Africa closed its borders to visitors from countries that were highly impacted by the coronavirus on March 18th.
The country has some of the most stringent lockdown restrictions in the world including no jogging outside, no sales of alcohol or cigarettes, no dog-walking, no leaving home except for essential trips, and prison or heavy fines for law-breaking.
And for Niocie Browne, it means she can’t leave the country to go back home to Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo.
“June 23rd marked 100 days since we left Brazzaville,” Browne told Travel Noire.
What was originally supposed to be a week vacation with a colleague in Cape Town has turned out to be a more than three-month headache.
Browne left Brazzaville on March 14, 2020, where she spent two days vacationing in Johannesburg. During the trip, however, she got a call from a friend back home who said that the borders would be closing soon.
“They could not tell us the exact dates. We tried to contact our airline but no one was available,” said Browne. “With the new information we got from our friend, we changed our flight from Cape Town and returned to Johannesburg the next day. We tried to get an earlier flight out of Johannesburg back to Brazzaville, but we were unsuccessful.”
After finally getting ahold of someone from their airline, Browne and her friend were told by ticketing agents their tickets would be on hold until June 30.
“We asked if the airline would help with accommodations and we were told that there is nothing the airline can do,” Browne added. “We tried other airlines but there were no flights to Brazzaville. Throughout this process, we did not receive any information from the airline by a phone call or email.”
Browne said she’s hoping that the restrictions will ease soon so that she can get back to her family in Congo.