AFRICA MIRROR REPORTER
MORE diplomatic heads are expected to roll as South African intensfies its investigations into foreign representatives who have abused their privllges by buying duty-free alcohol and selling it to South African outlets for a profit.
More than 17 diplomats from Lesotho and Malawiu, found guilty of the crime, were stripped of their diplomatic privileges and given 72 hours to leave SA.
The South African government, through the Department of International Relations (DIRCO), has announced that more diplomats were under investigation and that they would face the same fate as those from Lesotho and Malawi.
In a statement, DIRCO spokesperson Clayson Monyela said: “Investigations of similar transgressions by other missions accredited to South Africa 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 the laws of the land, including adherence with the prescripts of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.”
Monyela said the diplomats who have been given their marching orders were declared persona non-grata for engaging in illicit trade in duty-free alcohol.
`’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 government of South Africa has given the affected diplomatic staff members and their families 72 hours within which they should leave South Africa. They are also expected to relinquish their diplomatic status by returning all the necessary diplomatic tools to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.”
The first diplomats to be expelled by SA has are those from Lesotho and Malawi.
The Lesotho government has expressed disappointment at the conduct of the diplomats, who were given 72 hours to leave SA, together with their families. Some of the diplomats boasted about their liquor collections, posting several pictures on social media platforms.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations has learnt with disappointment and embarrassment that several Basotho diplomats serving in the Republic of South Africa, at Lesotho High Commission in Pretoria and Lesotho Consulate in Johannesburg, have been declared persona non grata by the government of the Republic of South Africa.
The diplomats and their families have been given 72 hours to depart from South Africa and relinquish their diplomatic status.
South Africa took this action under the terms of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, due to the said diplomats failing to comply with the laws of the Republic of South Africa, specifically the illicit trade in duty-free alcohol.
The government of the Kingdom of Lesotho distances itself and condemns the actions of the said diplomats in the strongest terms,” the government said in a statement.
Official communication from SA’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation has identified the disgraced diplomats as:
- Malika Sylviah Molapo-Mphofe – Counsellor.
- Keketso Hallo Makhupane – First Secretary.
- Jane Lekunya – Third Secretary.
- Malebohang Jane – Attache (administration).
- Cephas Kolouane Jane – Spouse of Malebohang.
- Ketso Pitrose Kalake – Attache (Driver).
- Mathato Joyce Kalake – Spouse
- Limakatso Maferesi – Spouse.
- Teboho Charles Letsela – Consular Attache.
- Molefi John Matsoso – Assistant Attache.
- Makhotso Angelinah Mabaso – Spouse.
- Makagiso Anicia Mabeleng – Spouse.