Alfa Mpetsheni Picture: Facebook
Alfa Mpetsheni Picture: Facebook

SA student ‘held in China’ to fly home after prison release

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Feb 25, 2020

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Cape Town – South African student Alfa Mpetsheni, who is studying in China, is expected to be reunited with his Gauteng family soon after being released from prison.

This is according to his father, Thulani, who said he got the shock of his life when Mpetsheni called last week telling him the Shanghai Public Security Bureau had released him. It is still unclear what charges he faced.

The Mpetsheni family was informed by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation of Alfa's whereabouts after he had gone missing for nearly a month.

Mpetsheni, 25, has been studying at Zhejiang Gongshang University in Hangzhou. His mother, Nokuthula, last spoke to him on WeChat on January 18, while his friends last saw him on January 15.

Following their concerns about his whereabouts, his family reached out to authorities and was informed by the Chinese Embassy in South Africa that he had boarded a flight to Bangkok, Thailand.

“To get confirmation from him that he is alive is a relief because we were starting to doubt anything that comes from authorities,” Thulani said. 

“I was worried sick when I did not know where he was and feared for his life when I was informed he was detained. I chose not to ask him over a phone why he was arrested because I know it doesn't have to do with his visa. 

"His visa only expired while he was still in custody. We will discuss it when he is back,” he said.

He added that Mpetsheni was currently in a hostel in Shanghai while immigration authorities were assisting him with his passport to return to South Africa.

“He can't go back to university as it's still closed due to the coronavirus. We're not sure even there in Shanghai if the authorities will allow him to come back, but the immigration authorities said papers would be done in 10 days. 

"So we are hopeful that some time in March he will be here and only go back to China when the university reopens.”

Cape Times

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