The security team accompanying the South African president encountered a challenging situation during their journey to Ukraine. After landing at Warsaw’s Chopin Airport, the authorities in Poland refused to allow them and the accompanying journalists to disembark the plane. This unexpected delay has disrupted Cyril Ramaphosa’s peace mission, which involves several African heads of state.
Maj Gen Wally Rhoode, the head of President Ramaphosa’s security, expressed his concern over the situation, stating that the Polish government’s actions are compromising the president’s safety. He emphasized that this delay puts the president’s life at risk and accused the authorities of racism. However, the Polish government has not commented on the matter, leading to growing diplomatic tension.
Despite the impasse, President Ramaphosa himself proceeded to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, by train on Friday morning. Upon his arrival, he was warmly received by the South African ambassador and Ukraine’s special envoy for the Middle East and Africa, as reported by the South African presidency. The president’s visit to Ukraine is part of a broader African effort to seek a resolution to the ongoing conflict. Later, he is scheduled to travel to Russia for further discussions.
Meanwhile, some individuals, including journalist Pieter du Toit from News24, remain stranded on the plane in Warsaw. In a video update, he shared the challenges they are facing after spending nearly 24 hours on the tarmac. However, he commended the support provided by the South African Airways staff, despite the deteriorating conditions on the plane, likening it to a makeshift refugee camp due to limited supplies.
The situation surrounding the South African president’s security team in Poland has created a tense atmosphere, but President Ramaphosa has continued his mission, determined to contribute to resolving the conflict in Ukraine.