The Polish foreign ministry announced on Friday that an SAA plane transporting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s security detail was grounded due to the presence of dangerous or unsafe goods that were not declared.
The plane, which also carried several journalists, has been held at Warsaw’s Chopin International Airport for nearly 24 hours.
According to the Polish foreign ministry, the plane was grounded due to security concerns.
“The plane was carrying dangerous materials that were not authorized for import by South African representatives,” the foreign ministry stated.
“In addition, there were individuals on board the plane who had not been previously notified to the Polish authorities,” the statement added.
The flight, carrying over 120 people, departed from South Africa at around 1:30 am on Thursday and encountered problems two hours before its scheduled arrival in Warsaw. The passengers included an advance team responsible for President Ramaphosa’s security during his mission to mediate the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The media contingent was expected to cover Ramaphosa’s meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg. As of 3 pm on Friday, the passengers remained uncertain about whether they would be allowed to proceed to St. Petersburg. President Ramaphosa began his journey to Kyiv on Friday.
The Polish foreign ministry stated that it had made efforts to ensure a smooth trip, holding three consultative meetings with South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco), the presidency, and the South African embassy in Poland.
“All necessary formalities for the delegation’s entry into the territory of the Republic of Poland and the required transport permits were communicated to the South African side,” the ministry explained, adding that actions were being taken to resolve the situation.
The Polish Border Guard reported that the passengers on the South African aircraft were given the option to disembark, provided they left their weapons behind. However, they chose to remain on board until the flight could resume.
“The members of the delegation had weapons with them, without permission for their import, but they were allowed to leave the plane by themselves. The passengers made the decision to stay on board until the flight could continue. The crew members underwent a border check by the Border Guard officers and then rested,” the Border Guard stated.
Sources: TimesLIVE ,WARSAW