Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is on an official visit to China, says government is actively addressing the arrest of a number of South Africans and other nationals in that country.
Speaking at a media briefing in Beijing on Wednesday at the conclusion of the first part of his official visit, the Deputy President said he was aware that there were a number of South Africans as well as people from other nations who had been detained.
He said the matter was being addressed at the level of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, reports official state news agency SANews.
“They are dealing with the matter. We are hoping that there will be a solution as time goes on. So that matter is being handled.
“We think it is best to leave it at that level because the Chinese officials as well as our Department of International Relations are dealing with the matter, actively on an hour by hour basis, yes it is being addressed” said the Deputy President.
On Wednesday, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane confirmed that a total of 20 people in a tour group were detained at the weekend.
The tour group which consisted of 10 South Africans, nine British nationals and one Indian national were on a planned 47-day trip to explore the country.
Following an intervention by both the South African and British governments in China on Tuesday‚ it was agreed that 11 of the 20 detainees would be released.
They are being held in detention until flights have been finalised for them out of China.
“Five South Africans will be on next fight back home,” the Minister said.
The five other South Africans‚ three British and one Indian national are not free to leave yet.
“Consultations are still ongoing for their release with the Chinese authorities,” Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said.
She could not confirm the reason for their detention, however the humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers, which is in contact with the families, said no charges have been put to the group.
Second leg of official visit
The Deputy President’s visit to China is aimed at understanding how state-owned enterprises can be utilised to promote economic growth while addressing challenges of poverty and unemployment.
In this regard, Deputy President Ramaphosa has interacted with a number of Chinese state-owned enterprises with a view of learning how South Africa could utilise the Chinese model in its own re-industrialisation process.
He will visit the coastal city of Qingdao in the second part of his official visit on Thursday.
According to the Presidency, the city of Qingdao is one of China’s five largest foreign trade ports and home to a large petro-chemical industry which hosts many international companies.
During his visit to Qingdao, Deputy President Ramaphosa is expected to meet the management of large Chinese companies, Haier and Hisense.
Hisense is a multinational white goods and electronics manufacturer which recently expanded its existing operations in South Africa by establishing a manufacturing centre in Atlantis, in the Western Cape.
Of the products manufactured in South Africa, approximately 40% are sold locally and the rest exported to other African countries.
Hisense has indicated that it intends to establish a research and development centre in South Africa the near future.
Haier Group on the other hand is a leading global networked home appliance and furnishing supplier. Currently, Haier has a sales office in South Africa and there are plans to set up a sale, research and development centre and a manufacturing operation aimed at producing products for both the South African in particular and the African markets in general.
The Deputy President will also visit the China Rail Company which is home to China’s high speed train factory. The company is engaged in the design and manufacture of high-end trains, as well as subway vehicles and light railway vehicles.