Kgothatso Mdunana allegedly fell from the window of a 13th floor apartment in Hangzhou, China, while visiting a friend. Picture: Supplied
Kgothatso Mdunana allegedly fell from the window of a 13th floor apartment in Hangzhou, China, while visiting a friend. Picture: Supplied

Homicide ruled out in death of SA student in China – embassy

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published May 27, 2021

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Pretoria – The Chinese embassy in South Africa on Thursday said law-enforcement agencies in China have ruled out the possibility of foul play in the death of 24-year-old South African student Kgothatso Mdunana.

The final-year engineering student at Shandong University allegedly fell from the window of a 13th-floor apartment in Hangzhou, China, while visiting a friend on April 30.

“Information received by the embassy shows that the police in China have ruled out the possibility of homicide, after a careful investigation. The established cause of death has been found to be the accidental fall from the building,” the embassy said in a statement.

“The remains of the deceased student are being kept at Haining Funeral Parlour in Zhejiang Province, China. The local police bureau has informed the conclusion of investigations to the family, through a known friend of the deceased.”

The embassy said a briefing to the family by the police in China was scheduled for the near future.

“Once again, the Chinese embassy in South Africa is ready to do its utmost best to assist the family of the deceased in handling the aftermath, and to provide the necessary support and assistance,” the embassy added.

The diplomatic mission in South Africa said it attached great importance to the matter and had closely followed the developments on the tragic death of the student.

“The embassy deeply regretted the tragic loss of Ms. Mdunana, and expressed sincere sympathy to her family. Since the news broke, the embassy has availed itself to provide assistance to the bereaved family in dealing with the aftermath of the unbearable loss, including facilitation of the recent legal documents for the repatriation of Ms. Mdunana’s remains.”

The embassy said it had been communicated to the Mdunana family that it was ready to issue visas and to provide other facilitations for the parents of the deceased student to travel to China.

The family is preparing for the return of Kgothatso’s body for burial on home soil.

In a crowdfunding campaign, the family had hoped to raise R350 000 (about US$25 000) for repatriation costs, but donors and Good Samaritans rallied to exceed that target and donations streamed in, garnering more than R600 000.

In their BackaBuddy campaign, the family said they were not prepared for the high cost of repatriation fees as her travel insurance had expired.

BackaBuddy’s Zane Groenewald told Independent Media that more than 250 local and international donors had contributed to the fund.

Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said they had been assisting the family with consular services to ensure Mdunana's body was returned.

“We have been in contact with the family since April 30 and have been assisting since then with all services they need. As a government, we are forbidden from offering monetary assistance, but we have linked the family with the authorities who will assist with the repatriation, but this was for their own cost,” Ngqengelele told Independent Media.

“In terms of the reports (of cause of death), we will rely on the authorities to share that information with us,” said Ngqengelele.

African News Agency (ANA)

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