‘We didn’t think we’d make it’: SA students on Russia-Ukraine ordeal

‘We didn’t think we’d make it’: SA students on Russia-Ukraine ordeal

SA students who were caught in the crossfire in Ukraine when Russia attacked say they did not think they would make it home when they landed at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Friday.

This week, three South African students who had been staying in Ukraine have managed to flee the country and landed in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 2 March 2022.


Nkateko Muyimane and Mandisa Malindisa are 4th year medical students who were stuck in Ukraine when the ‘military operation’ by Russia started.

Nkateko Muyimane said it was a terrifying 5 or 6 day trip with minimum sleep.

“I feel quite overwhelmed but I’m really glad I am home. We didn’t think we’d be home, honestly. From being in trains, to seeing bombs, stuck in borders and sleeping on the floors with -3 degrees temperature. We didn’t even have food,” Nkateko said.

Mandisa Malindisa said they fought for their lives and had to fight other people because of the racism at the borders.

“People were fighting each other to get on trains, they stole food, you needed to know how to run. It was the survival of the fittest.”

The two said they now that they are home, they have to look for other medical schools because their city has been ravaged, their university is gone and there are no apartments.

“If we didn’t leave last Friday, I don’t think we would be home today.”

Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) spokesperson, Clayson Monyela said there are 28 SA students in Ukraine. Most of them have managed to evacuate, some even before Russia launched its attacks.

Monyela added that at least six South Africans are still in Ukraine, while more than 40 others are currently in Hungary, Poland and Slovakia

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