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Tristan-Lee Niemand says she had a tough time in China

Tristan-Lee Niemand arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Saturday after spending more than a month at a detention centre in China.

FILE: Tristan-Lee Niemand. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African student who returned home after being detained in China says she had a tough time in the Asian country.

Tristan-Lee Niemand arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Saturday after spending more than a month at a detention centre in China.

The 19-year-old was in the country on a student visa and was teaching English at a school in Nanjing before being arrested by Chinese authorities for not having a work permit.

She says the rooms people stayed were appalling: “The rooms were in a bad state, the paint was coming off the wall, there was mosquito blood, the blankets were dirty, and the bathrooms were not clean.”

Her father, Richard Bridger, who was at the airport to welcome his daughter home says he is relieved that the ordeal is over: “It was very stressful. I was kept in the dark the whole time. There were so many different stories going around and I didn’t know what to believe. For the last 30-odd days I don’t think I’ve had a full night’s sleep. I’m happy it’s over and we can move forward with our lives.”

According to DIRCO figures, 800 South Africans are currently in prisons across the world for visa irregularities, drug-related charges and other offences.

However, arrests occur more frequently in the Republic of China compared to anywhere else.

DIRCO spokesperson Ndivhuwho Mabaya says Niemand’s story is all too familiar.

Another eight South Africans who have been arrested will be flown back into the country on Sunday.

Dirco has urged South Africans planning on working abroad to make sure they have the correct visas and travel documents.

Additional reporting by Lizell Persens.

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