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Why are so many South African teachers dying in China?
Author: EnglishTeacher    2022-10-12


It is alarming that three South Africans teaching English in China have died over the course of this year.

NomaQocwa Blackie died on April 18, Lusanda Sixaxeni died on September 12, and most recently, Siposethu Mqokozo died on September 22.


The families have been struggling with answers as to why these three ladies passed away so suddenly, with all three families reportedly struggling to gather enough money to have their loved ones repatriated for a proper, traditional funeral.

Siphosethu Mqokozo’s family is currently asking for donations for repatriation after she died in Yangzhou, in Jiangsu province, where she had worked since moving there in October 2019.


She had made the move after receiving her education qualification at the University of Johannesburg and had been her family’s breadwinner.

Apparently, around the time of her death, she was discussing the case of Sixaxeni with her sister on the phone:

Her sister Lubabalo Mqokozo said she last spoke to Siphosethu on September 15. One week later on September 22, Mqokozo was surprised to receive a call from the school informing her that her younger sister had died on her way to the hospital after having a panic attack.

She said: “We spoke, and she was doing fine. She told me that she was worried about teachers dying in China. She said she was worried that people don’t get sick for long before they die.”

Sixaxeni was a 27-year-old from Mossel Bay’s Nonqaba Township who died in a hospital in Beijing on September 12.


She moved to China as an English teacher in 2019 after she graduated with a political science and psychology qualification from Nelson Mandela University.

Her uncle, Mandisi Sixaxeni, 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.

Sixaxeni’s distraught mother Nomonde Sixaxeni was not able to speak, struggling to come to terms with the loss of her child.

In another case, NomaQocwa Blackie, from Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape, went to China in 2017 to teach English and also died. She was 27.


She was found alone and dead in her flat in Shanghai on April 18 this year.

Tuse [her sister] said Blackie’s friend and colleague, Abongile Mboto, became worried when she failed to submit her learning material video to the school where they both teach English in Shanghai.

“Since Abongile had an access code to Noma’s apartment, she gave it to the police and Covid-19 volunteers who went to her flat, and this is where the shocking discovery was made. It is yet not clear how she died as the police are still investigating,” Tuse said.

Blackie’s younger brother, Arthur, said that their mother was hit incredibly hard by the loss.

He also confirmed at the time that the family was trying to arrange the repatriation of his sister’s remains with the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO).


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