Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: SOWETAN
Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: SOWETAN

Chinese authorities have told the Department of International Relations and Co-operation that passports confiscated from 51 young South Africans who were scammed in Changchun, were released on Monday.

They will now be able return to SA.

"I am happy that this incident has been resolved. l want to make a call to all South Africans that they must familiarise 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‚" International Relations and Co-operation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said.

The group was kept in China pending a court case against a Chinese agent who allegedly lured them to the foreign country with the promise of lucrative teaching jobs. However‚ he allegedly did not disclose to the group the type of qualifications they needed and instead helped them to get student visas — despite the fact that they were going to be working in China.

Sisulu said that the department would launch a campaign in a few weeks’ time to raise awareness of all South African travellers‚ entitled Travel Smart. The campaign will be aimed at encouraging South Africans to research their destinations and the laws of the countries in which they seek to visit or work.

"We have too many South Africans in prisons across the world‚ which is of concern. We want South Africans to research and gather all necessary information before they travel‚ so as to avoid taking risks and involving themselves in activities that may be deemed illegal‚" she added.

An official from the South African embassy in Beijing was due to travel to Changchun on Monday to provide consular assistance to the group.