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South Africa expels 12 Lesotho diplomats over illicit booze racket

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Lesotho said on Thursday that several of its diplomats had been expelled from South Africa over the illicit peddling of duty-free alcohol.

 

The foreign affairs ministry in Maseru said South Africa had given the diplomats and their families 72 hours to leave the country.

 

South Africa had taken the decision because the diplomats violated laws “specifically, the illicit trade in duty-free alcohol”, it said in a statement.

 

South African media reported that cash-strapped Lesotho diplomats have been bringing alcohol into the country, without paying duty, and then re-selling it in bars and restaurants.

A leaked note from the South African government, sent to the foreign ministry in Maseru, lists 12 diplomats, including spouses, who “have abused their diplomatic privileges”.

 

Clayson Monyela, the head of public diplomacy in the foreign ministry said: “Several diplomats accredited to South Africa have been declared Persona Non Grata following an investigation into their flouting of diplomatic privileges. This relates to illicit trade in duty-free alcohol. This action is in line with the Vienna Convention of 1961.” – AFP

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