China visa scam: SA government won’t give financial relief to stranded teachers

The 50 South Africans who fell prey to a work visa scam in China will not receive any financial help from their own government. That’s according to the parents who are fighting tooth and nail to get their children home.

Sucked in by the promises of Owen Wong – a man who claimed to represent a company called Sanda Youth International – the group thought they would be taking up a position to teach English as a foreign language to local children.

They arrived in the country without a hitch, but Wong convinced the would-be teachers that he needed their passports to finalise all of their work visas.

They spent two weeks in China before they were due to start work, yet their passports were never returned. Wong was arrested for fraud shortly afterwards.

South African teachers stung by fake visa scam
Without their passports and completed visas, the group haven’t been allowed to do anything to make money. As they are under a criminal investigation by the Chinese authorities, they are required to stay in the confines of their university dormitory.

Marizaan Englebrecht, 21, is one of the teachers marooned in the Far East. Her mother Charlotte revealed to us that she and the other parents embroiled in this situation have been in contact with DIRCO’s Pieter Weideman.

What are the SA government doing to help?
As a representative of the South African Embassy in China, Weideman is assisting the families with this diplomatic issue. He held a discussion with some members of the group, including father David Pieterse, on Monday.

It was “made clear” to him that neither DIRCO, nor any other branch of government, would assist the group financially:

China visa scam
A WhatsApp message shared with the parents of teachers stranded in China. It confirms there will be no monetary assistance from the South African state. (Supplied)
How can I help?
The parents have been left with no other option but to begin their own crowdfunding page. They have a fundraising total of R550 000. The long-term goal is to raise enough money to fly their children home.

The short-term goal is heartbreaking. Without money, the young professionals are unable to buy food during this whole nightmare. If you feel like stepping up and helping these guys, you can find their BackABuddy page here. All donations are welcome

We’ll have more on this situation as it develops.

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