Ramaphosa must assist detained South Africans - Gift of the Givers

2015-07-15 13:32
Cyril Ramaphosa. (GCIS)

Cyril Ramaphosa. (GCIS)

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NEWSPAPERS: South Africans detained without charge in China

2015-07-15 10:06

In today's newspapers, ten South Africans have been arrested without charge in China. Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath takes you through today's newspapers. WATCH. WATCH

Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa must intervene to assist the five South Africans detained by the Chinese government, with Ramaphosa currently in China, the Gift of the Givers said on Wednesday.

"We call upon Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to raise the issue of the detained South Africans directly with the highest authority in China as he and an entourage of government ministers and business executives are on a state visit to that country," founder Imtiaz Sooliman said.

"It is inconceivable that a government hosts another government on a state visit and simultaneously incarcerates 10 of its citizens without charge."  

"The Chinese must be told in no uncertain terms to provide the evidence and proof if the South Africans have terror links, charge them and take them to trial, alternatively, they must release them immediately and unconditionally.  

"The conditions in the detention centre, apparently, are not good.  Family members are extremely worried and want finality on the issue," he said.

No formal charges put to detainees

Ramaphosa is leading a delegation to China on an official visit. The delegation entered the country on Monday and is expected to leave on Friday.

Sooliman said out of the 10 South Africans, among a total of 20 arrested, interventions by the South African and British governments had led to five South Africans and six British nationals being allowed to leave the country.

The 20 arrested were part of a 47-strong tour party touring China. They were arrested at Erdos airport on Friday morning.  

"Representatives of the three governments met in Erdos, Inner Mongolia, where protracted discussions took place but no formal charges were put to any of the 20 detainees," Sooliman said.

Though 11 out of the 20 would be released, it meant they would still be held in detention until flights had been finalised for them out of China.  

Flights were confirmed for the five South Africans for Wednesday "but the Chinese stalled and said they cannot leave today in spite of their earlier assurances", Sooliman said.

"The five South Africans are now confirmed to fly out tomorrow [Thursday] if the Chinese don't stall them again, and are expected to land in South Africa on Friday."

The six British nationals are expected to leave China on Wednesday and land in the United Kingdom on Thursday.


"We still have the problem of the other 5 South Africans, 3 British and 1 Indian national who are not free to leave and still yet have not been charged," Sooliman said.

"The family of the South African group are considering appointing a Chinese human rights lawyer to represent the family but to defend what, as no charges have been put to them."

He said information from China on Wednesday morning was disconcerting, as it appeared many of the top human rights lawyers have been arrested by the Chinese government.  

"No charges have been put to the group but the Chinese have been very vague, saying that someone in the group has some links to a suspected terror group and that someone has some links to a banned group and that the real reason for the incarceration is that someone was watching propaganda videos in the hotel," Sooliman said.

"We now have received information that the Chinese government has put out a statement saying that criminal charges will be put to the group.  We don't know what that means."

Earlier on Wednesday, international relations and co-operation spokesperson Nelson Kgwete said: "Judging by the status of the incident, it is still being managed by the embassy and it will be finalised by the level of the embassy intervention."

Kgwete confirmed that the five South Africans released were expected to arrive home on Friday.

"Yes, that is what we have been informed and we expect they will make their way home once their transport arrangements have been finalised."

Asked if the five other South Africans remained in custody, he said that was what had been relayed to the department from its embassy in Beijing.

Read more on:    gift of the givers  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  imtiaz sooliman  |  china

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