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Durban - Seven South Africans who dreamed of teaching English in China but were detained over visa disputes will be released and deported home.

The South African mission in Shanghai yesterday informed International Relations and Co-operation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu that the seven, including Tristan-Lee Niemand, 19, had completed their detention period.

The school that employed them as English teachers should provide the return tickets for the flight on which they are to be deported, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) said.

“They are expected to return to South Africa before Friday. The group includes Niemand, whose mother, Stacey Lee-Niemand, has been informed of the latest development.

“The minister has also been informed that another eight South Africans who have been in distress in Zhejiang Province will be deported on Sunday and arrangements for their travel will be co-ordinated as soon as they are released,” Dirco said.

Niemand is one of at least 100 South Africans detained in China over visa violations.

She has been detained in Nanjing City since November after taking a job to teach English through an agency that promised they would get her a work visa.

She was there on a student visa.

Her father, Richard Bridger, told The Mercury’s sister newspaper The Cape Times that he had not had contact with his daughter since she was detained.

He said there were rumours that the agency was involved in corruption with high-ranking Chinese officials and that added complications to the matter.

Bridger said the agency had said that she needed to apply for a student visa, and once over there, they would train her and she would be given a work visa.

He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Sisulu again appealed to South Africans planning to travel to China and other countries to ensure they had the correct visas and travel documents.

“I am happy that the ordeal is over for the families. Again we urge our young people to make sure they have correct documents and to contact the embassies to verify any information they receive from recruitment agencies,” she said.

The Mercury