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Ambassador's suspension 'embarrassing' to SA

A former South African ambassador has described Yusuf Saloojee’s alleged conduct as embarrassing.

MTN offices in Johannesburg. Picture: defenceweb.co.za

JOHANNESBURG - A former South African ambassador on Wednesday said Yusuf Saloojee risks being a major embarrassment to South Africa.

Eyewitness News revealed Saloojee's suspension as ambassador to Oman for allegedly taking a bribe from cellphone giant MTN, while he was the ambassador to Iran.

Roger Ballard-Tremeer was South Africa's ambassador to Angola between 1994 and 1996.

He said a situation such as the suspension of an ambassador casts a shadow over South Africa's foreign relations.

"An ambassador is sent abroad to represent the president. The letters of credence are signed by the president that dispatched him to that country. One has obligations both to the president and South Africa."

The Hawks, in the meantime, said it was too early to comment on the investigation into the bribery allegations levelled against MTN.

The Hawks started an investigation into the matter but spokesperson MacIntosh Polela said it was not known what the effect of Saloojee's suspension would be on the investigation.

"We are still at the early stages, where we are still trying to gather all information.

"We are going to have to seek international agreement with countries like the US."

MTN stands accused of using improper means to obtain a cellphone license in Iran and have allegedly paid Saloojee $200,000 to help with the campaign.

The cellphone network has denied any impropriety.