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Supreme Court rules on Dalai Lama saga

Home Affairs has been slammed for the way it handled the Dalai Lama's visa entry application.

The Dalai Lama. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - The Supreme Court of Appeal on Thursday ruled it was illegal for the Home Affairs department to refuse making a decision in time for the Dalai Lama's visa entry to South Africa.

The Tibetan spiritual leader planned to attend archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday celebrations, but eventually cancelled his trip following several delays by government.

At the time, Tutu slammed the delay as being worse than the apartheid government.

The IFP's Mario Ambrosini said, "It means the Dalai Lama can finally come to South Africa. It also means we need to regain the moral compass that the government has lost.

"It begs questioning why we had to go to the Supreme Court of Appeal to declare something which was obvious to any man of law, or any man of conscience."

Meanwhile, complainants the Inkatha Freedom Party and Congress of the People, welcomed the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling, saying they felt vindicated.

IFP leader Mangosutho Buthelezi's lawyer, Gary Eisenberg, said, "The court ruled that the minister deliberately procrastinated in not making the decision to give the Dalai Lama his visa. The court found that was unlawful conduct and found costs against the minister."