Diplomats caught in booze selling scandal given 72 hours to leave SA

Eyewitness News last year uncovered a duty-free alcohol ring run by Lesotho diplomats.

FILE: Some of the duty-free alcohol sold by Lesotho diplomats in South Africa. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of International Relations has ordered several diplomats to leave South Africa within 72 hours for flouting their diplomatic privileges.

This follows an intensive investigation that found them guilty of engaging in illicit trade in duty-free alcohol.

Eyewitness News last year uncovered a duty-free alcohol ring run by Lesotho diplomats.

At the time, they justified their actions, saying they were making up for the shortages in their salaries.

On Thursday, the Lesotho government confirmed diplomats had been expelled from South Africa.

While Friday, Malawi's foreign ministry reported its officers in Pretoria have been dismissed on similar grounds.

They are also expected to relinquish their diplomatic status, returning all diplomatic tools to Dirco.

In a statement issued late Friday night, Dirco confirmed that the foreign envoys have been declared “persona non grata” a status applied by a host country to foreign diplomats to remove their protection from diplomatic immunity from arrest and other kinds of prosecution.

The department’s Clayson Monyela said investigations into similar transgressions by other missions accredited to South Africa were underway.

“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.”

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.