If there were somewhere that Pierre and Giovanna Bezuidenhout wanted to be stuck during the lockout, it would be on a tropical island.
‘For the South African couple, they’re living the dream.’
Though they miss their family and friends, they feel “blessed” to be locked up in tropical paradise.
“My wife and I have always wanted a nice long holiday, and our prayers have been answered in a funny way” said Pierre.
“We are so fortunate to be stuck on an island, but it also has its downfalls because the home is where the family is.”
The couple moved to the beautiful island a month ago as part of their annual holiday to Thailand. However, because of the lockout limits, Bezuidenhouts and thousands of other international visitors have been stranded since then.
They moved from their luxury hotel to a villa on the island to preserve physical distance.
‘Many stranded on Koh Samui are still able to visit the beaches to buy food and grocery stores.’
“We should thank our lucky stars that we’re stranded on this particular island because they haven’t enforced a complete lockout, so we’re still free to walk around the beach and buy food. The good thing is that, before the evacuation, the locals had to leave, and there are very few people on the island. “Financially, though, the couple had to keep going for a long holiday they hadn’t expected. ”
“We’ve got to pay more for our accommodation, so we don’t eat in restaurants. We buy food and make our own food, clean our own place and wash our own clothes. It’s sort of like going on a fishing trip or a survival camp. ”
So far, the island has had only six cases of Covid-19, with those confirmed positive immediately flown off the island. That’s why the pair aren’t afraid of catching the virus.
“The Thai government has been very cautious about keeping distance and not going out in groups. There’s no alcohol and no parties permitted either. ”
Although Pierre and his wife enjoy their time on the island’s sandy beaches, they’re also helping fellow South Africans stranded on various islands in Asia without income.
Pierre, his aunt, and two other South Africans, Neal Stacey and Derick van Zyl, have launched the # bringourfamilieshome Facebook group.
“We also launched a petition on Monday to help these South Africans get home. We already have 6 000 signatures and we have also managed to collect some of the funds.”
“With the funds collected, they have been able to support 13 South Africans who have been trapped in Cambodia with food for a week. We’re also trying to get a fundraiser on flights because prices have been sent to us and most people can’t afford it.” Pierre said the Department of International Relations has been in constant touch with them.
“They contacted all of us, so we all registered with them. I’m sure they’re doing everything in their power to help. It’s a logistical nightmare in Thailand because all the islands are far apart from each other. So to get everyone rounded up is a 24/7 job.”
‘Many South African stranded around the world’
“There are many people who have been negative and have attacked the government because they are not home but we have been calming people down and ensuring things will come right. It’s just a question of when.”
“It’s very costly to get a plane to take us back to South Africa so it’s understandable. It’s not going to take two or three days, it will take a while. There are people that are struggling and really need to come back home.”
Department spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said they were aware of the many South Africans stranded around the world.
“We are working hard to assist them to get back home. But we are in a lockdown and so are many other countries and the purpose of this is to restrict the movement of people and curb the spread of the coronavirus,” he said.
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