Treated like ‘filth’ in China

2011-12-14 00:00

“MY aunt was a sacrificial lamb for the Chinese government,” said Ntando Mthalane, a distraught nephew of Janice Linden, who was executed in China earlier this week.

He said the family could not make funeral arrangements because the Chinese government had not indicated when it would send his aunt’s ashes to them.

Linden (36) was executed by lethal injection on Monday for smuggling three kilograms of crystal meth in 2008.

Her sisters, Priscilla Mthalane and Nomalwazi Mhlope, were allowed a 45-minute visit on the day before her execution.

Priscilla said that at the airport in China she and her sister were treated like “filth” by customs officials, presumably because they are black.

“They opened our luggage and threw our stuff, underwear included, on the floor and we had to pick up all the items ourselves.”

She said she felt humiliated and afraid.

Priscilla said that when they met their sister she was crying tears of joy.

“She was so excited, but we soon realised that we would never get as close as we would have liked to.”

She had to talk to Janice through a glass screen and was not allowed to mention their mother’s death four months ago.

“We were being closely monitored by at least 30 policemen and we were not allowed to talk in our home language Zulu,” she said.

Linden was strapped to what resembled a wheelchair with her hands and legs tied.

She was only informed of her death by lethal injection an hour before it was delivered.

Speaking at the family’s modest Austerville home in Wentworth, Durban, extended family members and friends gathered to sing traditional church songs, but without the ashes there was no closure in sight.

Linden’s nephew said that drugs and crime were common in the area and even though they didn’t dabble in it, it was a part of their lives they couldn’t ignore.

“But to take a life away because they are suspected of smuggling it is extreme,” he said.

“My aunt was a wonderful person and children especially loved her. We are all in shock, and we feel her absence even though she has been away for all these years,” he said.

Mthalane claimed that straight off the back of COP17 it was clear there was a strengthening relationship between Pretoria and Beijing and that his sister was the least of our government’s concerns.

A spokesperson for the International Relations Department , Clayson Monyela, told The Witness there was simply nothing more the South African government could have done to save Linden.

“Other countries have had similar situations when their citizens were arrested on drug charges in China and they too could not succeed in reversing the decision.”

Responding to the claims of “no support being shown to the family”, he said that consular support was offered to the deceased; at no stage was support promised to the family.

“It is sheer ignorance to say that we have not done enough. The legal process had run its course and it was a decision taken by their highest authority. We are very sorry about the outcome and offer our deepest condolences to the family,” he said.

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