Deputy President negotiating release of detained S Africans

Pretoria - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is in China for an official visit, has taken the opportunity to get clarity on the South Africans being detained in Inner Mongolia.

“We remained seized …the matter is being raised at the highest level possible taking advantage of the Deputy President’s visit presence in China at the moment,” International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Wednesday.

Deputy President Ramaphosa is currently on a five-day official visit in China to study how Chinese state-owned enterprises are used to promote economic growth while addressing the challenges of poverty and unemployment.

Speaking to the media on current international developments, Minister 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.

“The Chinese have been very vague saying that someone in the group has some links to a suspected terror group and that someone has some links to a banned group and that the real reason for the incarceration is that someone was watching propaganda videos in the hotel,” the Gift of the Givers said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said the department is doing all it can to assist a South African man of Egyptian decent who is being detained in Egypt.

Sheikh Abdul Salam Jad Bassiouni, who is a community leader in Lenasia, South of Johannesburg, was detained by Egypt’s National Security at Cairo Airport in early December.

Although the department was using various diplomatic channels to assist the Bassiouni family, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said they need to respect the fact that he holds dual Egyptian and South African citizenship.

“He has got dual citizenship. He is a citizen of Egypt as much as he is a citizen of South Africa so we also have to respect that while we continue with our diplomatic efforts,” the Minister added. - SAnews.gov.za
Sheikh Abdul Salam Jad Bassiouni, who is a community leader in Lenasia, South of Johannesburg, was detained by Egypt’s National Security at Cairo Airport in early December.

Although the department was using various diplomatic channels to assist the Bassiouni family, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said they need to respect the fact that he holds dual Egyptian and South African citizenship.

“He has got dual citizenship. He is a citizen of Egypt as much as he is a citizen of South Africa so we also have to respect that while we continue with our diplomatic efforts,” the Minister added.

- SAnews.gov.za