Johannesburg – The family of a young woman who died in mysterious circumstances in China has to come up with between R300 000 and R350 000 to bring her body home for burial.
Kgothatso Mdunana, 24, allegedly fell through the window of a 13th floor apartment in Hangzhou, China, while visiting a friend. Her roommate in Qingdao (only known as Princess) and her parents said they didn’t know the mystery friend Kgothatso had visited and have not been able to speak to the person since the tragedy, which happened on April 30. Her death has been ruled as an accident but her mother Nomsa Mdudana told Saturday Star there is no way her daughter fell through a window.
“I spoke with her two days before and she was so excited about graduating. She was a brilliant young girl. Very ambitious. She would not throw herself through a window,” said the grieving mother.
Mdudana had been studying civil engineering at the Shandong University of Technology in Qingdao and was about to complete her degree. She had also been teaching English while universities across China had shut because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The agency she worked for said they would send us whatever money they owed her. Things are going very slow. So far we have managed to raise R25 000 but it’s not enough. We just want to bring her home,” said Mdudana.
Mdudana said Kgothatso had plans to move to the UK where she would pursue a career in civil engineering.
“When I spoke with her last she joked and said that when she graduates she will be worth R3 million already. She was going to work in the UK and said she would work hard to give us everything she could to better our lives,” said Mdudana.
Her father, Pfarelo Mphaphuli, said she opted to remain in China when South Africa repatriated all its citizens at the height of the pandemic in China.
“She has not been home in three years. My last message to her was ‘I love you too’. We just received a text message from her friend (Princess) to say there had been an accident and that Kgothatso fell through a window and that she had passed,” he said.
Dirco spokesperson, Lunga Ngqengelele, said they are still waiting for an update from the Chinese authorities through SA’s Mission in China.
“Consular Services is in contact with our Mission as we normally do and our Mission is in contact with the authorities in China as they normally do in such cases. In summary we liaise with our Mission who in turn liaise with the Chinese authorities and we facilitate communication with the family. We also facilitate with partner departments should the family wish to repatriate the mortal remains at their cost,” he said.
Mdudana said efforts to reach Kgothatso’s mystery friend in Hangzhou had been unsuccessful.
The young woman matriculated from St Stithian’s College in 2014 and started studying in China in 2016.
The family said in terms of their culture, they have to bring Kgothatso’s spirit home as part of the burial practice. The family is required to go to the spot where she died and “gather her spirit”. Mdudana said she and ex-husband, Mphaphuli, are planning to do this as soon as they have enough money.
“I checked ticket prices and one ticket costs around R18 000 for one person to fly to China. Then we must still pay for accommodation,” said the worried mom.
Mdudana said her younger sons, aged 16 and 3, were coping well under the circumstances although the family is stressed about getting their daughter’s remains home.
Anyone wishing to support the family in their quest to bring their daughter home can do so here.