The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu has recently announced in an official statement that she is aware of the dire situation regarding South African citizens who are currently stranded in China due to a visa scam.
Sisulu advised and instructed the Department of International Relations to work with the Chinese authorities in order to release the South Africans' passports and bring back to the country as soon as possible.
According to SA Embassy in Beijing, 51 young South Africans were enticed by an agent to travel to China on a study visa while planning to work as English teachers.
Before leaving South Africa the students were given student visas and told their work Visas will be issued upon arrival. With their contracts signed and sealed, the youngsters got a one way ticket to China to begin their teaching jobs, but upon arrival their work visas did not materialize. While in China on study visas, the 51 South Africans started working, which was in contravention of the Chinese law.
“Our Embassy in Beijing is liaising with the Chinese authorities in addressing this matter. We are also in touch with the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa to have their passports released. The Chinese Ambassador to South Africa has made an undertaking that he will expedite the matter”, said Minister Sisulu. "“We are very much aware that the Chinese authorities will follow their own legal process when such a violation occurs and deal with the matter accordingly”.
Recently it has been known that over R26 000 has been raised for the detained 51 South Africans to fly them home, and a suspect has been taken into Chinese Authorities, who has been suspected of fraud.
“The schools never enquired about their working visas and never received them from Owen Wang. Instead our children were paid half their agreed upon salaries and told to hide from the police when they were investigated” – says Liza Bold, who’s 21 year old daughter is among the detainees.
The youngsters are currently required to stay in the confines of their university dormitory, and are forced to survive on approximately R45 a day, enough to purchase a single plate of food and water, many of them have become ill, with no means of getting medication.
It has been made clear to the parents that the teachers will not be assisted by the South African government.
Hoping to raise funds to purchase food and other basic essentials, and in the long run, purchase flight tickets to fly the children back home, a crowdfunding campaign has been created on BackaBuddy.
Liza would like to encourage South Africans living in China to visit the teachers and offer them some morale support during this difficult time. “It would be great if someone could go and visit the kids and just let them know that, apart from their parents, there are other people out there that care for them too…” – says Liza
Minister Sisulu has appealed to the nation to be cautious of these type of scams, and to ensure that they apply for visas through the correct authorities. "DIRCO will continue to provide consular assistance to those South Africans in distress and also to keep those affected families informed of the latest developments”.
The minister has also stated that the Department of International Relations will engage with the Minister of Police and the Department of Home Affairs regarding the visa scams, so that individuals will be taken to task.
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