File photo: Independent Media

JOHANNESBURG - At least 800 South Africans are detained in foreign countries, with 98 of them nabbed in China for visa-related offences, the department of international relations and cooperation said on Wednesday.

Around 21% of them are detained in South America for drug trafficking, said spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya. The 98 arrested in China were nabbed in the past six months.

"As we approach the festive season, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu expressed serious concern about South Africans being arrested or detained across the world as a result of these offences."

"The minister calls on travelling South Africans to register with Dirco or with the South African diplomatic missions abroad and ensure that they have the right travelling documents."

Additionally, more than 100 young South Africans who travelled earlier this year to teach English in China where detained, cautioned or questioned regarding visa violations. Sisulu said she would engage her Chinese counterparts on the young South Africans detained in China. 

“Young people who seek to teach in China must make sure that they consult the Chinese Embassy and verify the agents who are arranging their travel. The responsibility to ensure they have the correct visa for working abroad still rests with the individual," said Sisulu.

African News Agency (ANA)