Mario Segal, the fellow South African who brought Van Neel’s plight to the attention of the media, said: “A Mr Stephens Makwela (First Secretary Admin & Consular South African Embassy, Beijing) confirmed that he spoke with Van Neel this morning (Tuesday). I was so relieved as we were unsure how he would survive the night.”
Segal had claimed over the weekend that Van Neel was in poor health.
However, when contacted for comment, Makwela said: “It would be appreciated if your enquiry can be directed to the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) who will respond to you appropriately.”
By the time of publication, Dirco had not responded to enquiries.