In a media statement released on 21 June, the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, confirmed that her ministry was working with Chinese authorities to have a group of 51 young South Africans currently stranded in China due to a visa scam returned home.

“The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, is aware of South African citizens who are stranded in China as a result of a visa scam and she has instructed the department to work with the Chinese authorities to have their passports released so that they can come back to South Africa as soon as possible,” reads the statement available on the department’s website.

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The ministry learnt from the South African Embassy in Beijing that the group travelled to the country to teach English, but did so with study visas, having been coerced by an agent who promised to provide them with the correct work visas upon their arrival in China. “While in China on study visas, they started working, which was in contravention of the immigration laws of the Republic of China,” the department says.

While the Minister said that it is expected that the Chinese authorities would follow their own legal process, the statement also confirmed that her department would also engage with that of Police and Home Affairs to bring individuals involved in such scams to book.

“We appeal to all South Africans to be cautious of these scams and to check with the relevant authorities before travelling to other countries. The department will continue to provide consular assistance to those South Africans in distress and also to keep those affected families informed of the latest developments,” said Sisulu.

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