Scammed SA teachers released, heading back home from China

2018-06-22 11:47
Aspiring South African teachers are trapped in China. (Supplied)

Aspiring South African teachers are trapped in China. (Supplied)

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The Chinese government has released 51 aspiring South African teachers who were stranded in the country after being scammed.

Some of the teachers had been in the country since June 2017 and others since April.

Chinese authorities confirmed on Friday that the passports belonging to a group of 51 South Africans stranded in Changchun, China will be released next week Monday.

International relations minister Lindiwe Sisulu thanked the authorities for releasing their passports.

"I am happy that this incident has been resolved," she said.

"I want to make a call to all South Africans that they must familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations of countries they visit or apply for work. They must also ensure that they have the correct documentation before they travel."

An official from the South African Embassy in Beijing will travel to Changchun on Monday to provide consular assistance to the group.

The group's spokesperson Charl Venter told News24: "I can confirm that Chinese immigration had a meeting with them [the group] and they have been advised that they will be flying [them] back at their [China's] expense." 

The group had been held in China to testify against their agent, who had brought them from SA to teach in Asia.

READ: Race on to rescue 51 scammed South Africans trapped in China

It is alleged that Owen Wang, who claimed to represent Sanda Youth International, enticed the group to fly to China on study visas, on the understanding that they would get work visas once there.

They were detained because they had broken immigration laws, but the Chinese government acknowledged that they had been scammed.

Venter said the first group would fly out from China on Monday and that their parents were ecstatic.

"I deal with the parents and my phone has not stopped ringing," he said.

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) also worked to secure the release of the group.

'Our minister has made a huge contribution'

"Dirco really assisted by ensuring that they speak to the right people and assisted by putting pressure on them [the Chinese government].

"Our minister has made a huge contribution for us," said Venter.

South Africans raised more than R40 000 on crowdfunding platform Backabuddy.co.za to contribute towards bringing the group home.

"We are in contact with all the donors via email to ask their blessing on what to do with the money [now that it is no longer required]," said Venter.

The alleged perpetrator of the scam is being held in China and Venter said that it was unlikely that he still had operatives in SA.

"Owen Wang is in custody and criminal procedures are happening against him."

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