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South Africa sends Malawian and Lesotho diplomats packing

by Staff Reporter
12 Jun 2021 at 21:35hrs | Views
The South African government has given some Lesotho and Malawian diplomats 72 hours to leave the country after they were found guilty of engaging in illicit trade in duty-free alcohol.

South Africa's Ministry of International Relations and Co-operation Department (DIRCO) said in a statement last night that the decision was taken because the diplomats were found guilty of engaging in illicit trade in duty-free alcohol following an intensive investigation into their flouting of diplomatic privileges.

"The said diplomats were found guilty of engaging in illicit trade in duty-free alcohol. This decision was taken in line with the Vienna Convention of 1961. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is fundamental to the conduct of foreign relations and ensures that diplomats can conduct their duties without the threat of influence by the host government.

However, in instances where such privileges are abused, the host country is obliged to take the necessary action in line with the convention. To this end, the South African government has given the affected diplomatic staff members and their families 72 hours within which they should leave South Africa. They are expected to relinquish their diplomatic status by returning all the necessary diplomatic tools to DIRCO.

Investigations of similar transgressions by other missions accredited to South Africa and are at an advanced stage and similar action will be taken should they be found guilty. Accordingly, the South African government calls upon all diplomatic missions accredited to the republic to respect, uphold and comply with all laws of the land, including adherence with prescripts of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961," read a statement from the DIRCO.
Lesotho's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Matšepo Ramakoae welcomed the move citing if the diplomats stay they would risk being incarcerated.

"South Africa, through its own investigations, through its own tax investigations, it has found that it has lost R100 million a month (approximately US$7 million). That was due to misuse of money by countries that were mentioned, and we were mentioned amongst those countries. When a person is now declared person non-grata it is for the country to make sure they declare that person outside that country within the stipulated time, because if they stay they will be arrested," said the Minister.

Moreover, Malawi's Foreign Ministry expressed regret that Malawian diplomats have been declared persona non grata and promised disciplinary action when the officers return home.

Source - Online

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