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Family struggling to repatriate SA teacher who died in China
Author: EnglishTeacher    2022-09-24


·A South African English teacher has died in China. 

·The family of 27-year-old Lusanda Sixaxeni from Mossel Bay is struggling to raise R400,000 to repatriate her body. 

·The South African government said it does not have a budget to fetch bodies of citizens who die abroad.   


A South African family is battling to repatriate the body of a 27-year-old relative who died in China.

The Department of International Relations and Corporations (Dirco) confirmed that Lusanda Sixaxeni, 27, from Mossel Bay’s Nonqaba Township, died in a hospital in Beijing. 

Sixaxeni worked as an English teacher in China. She died on September 12. 

Mandisi Sixaxeni, Lusanda’s uncle, said Chinese authorities have not yet informed the family of the cause of death.

"They promised to return to us regarding that. However, they did mention that they detected an infection in her urine samples,” he said, adding that the family was devastated by the death and was frustrated by not being able to come up with the funds to bring Lusanda's body home. 

“We even asked the SA embassy for help but they told us government does not budget for repatriation of its citizens. This is a very tough time for our family," he said.

"We have been asking for support on social media. Another challenge is that we have to sign a power of attorney to get someone in China to do necessary processes for us that side. Lawyers needed to do the notary cost money, which we don't have,” Mandisi said.

The family had been advised to authorise the Chinese government to cremate her body and send her ashes home, which would be cheaper than repatriating her remains.

But the Western Cape family is refusing to take this option because cremation is against their culture, explained Mandisi Sixaxeni, Lusanda’s uncle. Repatriating her remains will cost the family about R400,000.

Lusanda's mother Nomonde Sixaxeni was too distraught to speak as she struggles to come to terms with the loss.

After studying political science and psychology at Nelson Mandela University Lusanda moved to China in September 2019. 


Dirco advised South Africans traveling abroad to take travel insurance so in case of death, their bodies can be repatriated by the insurance company. 

Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the department only offers non-financial support to families of people who die abroad.

“We are rendering consular services to the family. The consular assistance that is rendered by government, as per the policy, is non-financial. It is the family that has to cover the repatriation costs. Government does not have a budget to do that,” said Monyela.  

He added that this repatriation policy is not unique to the South African government as most countries render non-financial support to their nationals who have died in foreign countries.

Monyela said they have been helping Sixaxeni family with clearances and have been liaising with the Chinese government on their behalf.  

“We have given them advice and options on what they can or cannot do. One of the options is cremation but African families do not prefer cremation,” said Monyela. 

No importation permit is needed to return ashes to South Africa. 


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