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Tutu's comrades have 'spat in his face'

Tutu has given the SA govt another tongue lashing over its handling of the Dalai Lama’s visa.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has given the South African government another tongue lashing over its handling of the Dalai Lama's visa.

The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India and is at loggerheads with China over Tibet, had been hoping to join the Nobel peace conference in Cape Town this month but withdrew his visa application after being told it would be unsuccessful.

Some Nobel peace prize winners have since pulled out of the conference in protest against government's apparent reluctance to allow the Dalai Lama into the country.

Tutu has spoken out against government over its apparent reluctance to hand the Dalai Lama a visa.

While the Department of International Relations and Cooperation maintained normal procedures were followed with the Dalai Lama's visa application, it also said the application was withdrawn.

China subsequently thanked South Africa for taking the 'correct position' on the alleged visa refusal.

In a strongly worded statement, Tutu says he is ashamed to call this 'lickspittle bunch my government', adding the summit was meant to celebrate the late Nelson Mandela, but his comrades have spat in his face.

Tutu also said he could not believe that the South African government could shoot itself in the same foot thrice over.

This is the third time in five years that the spiritual leader could not secure a visa to enter the country.

Meanwhile, the Tibetan National Congress believes the South African government should stop kowtowing to China and grant the Dalai Lama a visa.

The congress's Jigme Ugen says, "Clearly the government of South Africa's decision was not based on what the people of South Africa wanted."

Previous delays in dealing with the Dalai Lama's visa requests by the African National Congress government have angered South Africans who see it as a betrayal of the country's commitment to human rights since apartheid ended 20 years ago.

China brands the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule of Tibet, a separatist. The Dalai Lama says he is seeking more autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.

A South African court ruled two years ago that officials had "unreasonably delayed" a decision on granting the Dalai Lama a visa in 2011, largely out of fear of angering China, now a major African and South African trading partner and investor.

Because of the delay, the Dalai Lama was unable to attend Tutu's 80th birthday in Cape Town in October 2011. The previous visa denial, in 2009, was also for a peace conference.