Johannesburg - A joyous celebration awaits Renier Venter when he arrives back in South Africa from China on Monday. The 20-year-old is one of the 51 aspiring South African teachers stranded in the country after being ensnared in a visa scam. Efforts by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation helped secure the release of the group.
All 51 are due to return to the country by next week. Venter is expected to land at OR Tambo International Airport at midday on Monday and his father Charl, who is also the group’s spokesperson, is counting down the minutes.
“We’re going to have the biggest braai,” said Charl. “We’re a close-knit family so we are excited to welcome him home.”
Charl, who lives in Centurion, said his son had left to teach English to Chinese youngsters in January. When the group arrived at the Chinese airport, their passports were checked by officials there. Their passports were handed back to them and they were given a visa they thought was a working one, but it turned out to be a student one.
“They were informed by Owen Wang (who claimed to represent Sanda Youth International) that they had the correct documentation to enable them to work in China.”
Charl said the document was in Chinese but they had had no reason to distrust Wang. Renier then went on to teach English to children between the ages of 2 and 8.
“He loved working with the kids and was really enjoying his time in China,” said Charl. But soon after he began teaching, the group were told that they did not have the proper documentation to work in China and a month ago, their passports were confiscated, leaving them stranded.
Charl also had to send his son money as he wasn’t earning a salary at the time. South Africans managed to raise about R40 000 on crowdfunding platform Backabuddy to contribute towards bringing the youngsters back.