Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Aristide jets back to Haiti and SA foots bill

The South African government has confirmed that ousted Haitian president Jean Bertrand-Aristide will end his seven-year exile in South Africa before the March 20 Haitian elections — and that the South African taxpayer will now cover the costs of his journey.

“We covered the cost of Aristide’s stay in South Africa and now we will facilitate his journey home,” said department of international relations and cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela.

This could strain Pretoria’s relations with Paris and Washington, which have actively sought to delay Aristide’s return until after the elections. Monyela said Aristide would announce details of his travel arrangements himself from Lanseria International Airport late on Thursday evening, after the Mail & Guardian had gone to press. It was known that Aristide’s lawyer, Ira Kurzban, and actor and activist Danny Glover would accompany Aristide home. Glover recently co-signed a letter to President Jacob Zuma asking that Aristide be allowed to return home.

According to Kurzban Aristide would return to Haiti via private jet, the charter costs of which had delayed Aristide’s return thus far. No commercial airlines fly directly to Haiti and it is speculated that the United States government will not allow Aristide to transit through the US. A Lanseria-based charter company said it would cost “well over R6-million” to charter a flight to Haiti.

The cost of Aristide’s seven-year stay in the country has run to tens of millions of rands, but it is widely believed he was hosted by South Africa at the behest of the US government. A source well acquainted with issues surrounding Aristide’s exile confirmed that South Africa had agreed to keep Aristide until after the Haitian elections and that the French had applied more pressure to ensure that he stayed put.

This article was supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundation. Its views are those of the author and the Mail & Guardian

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Tourism industry hopeful of UK red list review

Meeting between scientists of both countries may pave way for removal from red list

R350 social relief grant not enough to live on

Nearly half of the population in South Africa — one of the most unequal countries in the world — is considered chronically poor.

More top stories

Tourism industry hopeful of UK red list review

Meeting between scientists of both countries may pave way for removal from red list

Triple murder in Khayelitsha investigated by police

Three young women have been shot dead execution-style in one of Cape Town’s gang-riddled communities

Q&A Sessions: Kagiso Rabada — ‘When I retire, I will...

Kagiso Rabada talks to Eyaaz Matwadia about his love for music and production, how the lockdown affected him, and how he hopes to get back to his best

State to subpoena and fact-check Agrizzi’s ‘illness’ claims

The National Prosecuting Authority will conduct its own probe into Angelo Agrizzi’s claims of ill health, after he failed to attend court again

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…