JOHANNESBURG, June 16 (AP) — A delegation of security officials, diplomats and journalists accompanying the South African president to Ukraine and Russia were stranded for more than 24 hours on a separate charter plane at Warsaw airport. Polish authorities said on Friday that the problem was with gun licensing.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was among African leaders visiting Kiev and Moscow on a mission to encourage a resolution to Russia’s war on Ukraine.
According to the Polish Border Service, security personnel in Ramaphosa did not have their permission to carry weapons, which led to the standoff.
The president’s office described the incident as “extremely unfortunate and deeply regrettable,” but said his safety had not been threatened.
“Members of the delegation carry weapons, but they are not licensed, but they can leave the plane by themselves,” the Polish agency said on Twitter on Friday.
“Our officials are still in contact with their Polish counterparts to try to resolve the issue,” Ramaphosa spokesman Vincent Magwenya said.
These included Major General Wally Rhodes, head of Ramaphosa’s personal protection unit, who claimed the delegation faced hostile treatment by Polish authorities, including a female colleague who was strip-searched.
Rhoode told reporters on the steps of the plane that Polish officials were deliberately obstructing and trying to “confiscate” the guns from them — even though the weapons were transported in secure boxes in the plane’s cargo hold.
South African journalists who were stranded on the plane said on Twitter that they were later told to disembark and proceed to customs.
It was unclear whether they would be allowed to travel to Kiev, where Ramaphosa and other African heads of state are expected to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The incident sparked debate in South Africa, where many saw the standoff as an indirect message to the country of its nonaligned stance in a war that has strained diplomatic relations with the West. (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)