Nineteen-year-old Tristan-Lee Niemand and six other South Africans can finally breathe a sigh of relief after they received confirmation that they are allowed to return to their own country. The seven were among scores who were scammed by a questionable recruiter in China. The teachers have served their detention period after incorrect visas were issued to them to teach English at a school in the Jiangsu province on China’s east coast. The Department of International Relations confirmed their release on December 18.
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“The South African mission in Shanghai has informed the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu that the seven South African nationals in Jiangsu province have completed their detention period and will be released and deported back to South Africa,” department spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said. All of the South Africans will be flown back at the expense of the school that they had been working at for the last eight months.
Niemand and her colleagues are expected to land in South Africa by Friday, December 21. She was arrested in Nanjing on November 16 because of her visa dispute. There are several other from our shores still stranded or incarcerated in China. “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 coordinated as soon as they are released,” Mabaya said.
Sisulu urges any South African who wishes to either teach abroad or further their careers overseas to make dead sure that they are in possession of the correct documentation. The minister is however relieved that the release of the seven teachers could be negotiated in a short space of time. “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.