SA-based diplomat ‘spent R36m in three months on duty-free alcohol’, says Dirco

15 June 2021 - 12:00 By unathi nkanjeni
Last week several SA-based diplomats were shown the door after they were allegedly involved in illegally trading in duty-free alcohol Stock photo.
Last week several SA-based diplomats were shown the door after they were allegedly involved in illegally trading in duty-free alcohol Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/VLADISLAVS GORNIKS

One SA-based diplomat has been found to have allegedly spent R36m in three months on duty-free alcohol. 

This is according to department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) spokesperson Clayson Monyela, who revealed some of the alleged behaviour witnessed among diplomats. 

Last week, several SA-based diplomats were shown the door after they were allegedly involved in illegally trading in duty-free alcohol.

The list of diplomats included some from Lesotho and Malawi. 

Speaking on Power 98.7 on Monday, Monyela said investigations found some diplomats allegedly ran their own bars and shebeens due to the amount of alcohol they would accumulate. 

He said the illicit alcohol allegedly sold by one diplomat, whose name was not disclosed, resulted in SA losing R100m per month.

“In one instance, there is one particular diplomat who allegedly spent about R36m in three months on duty-free alcohol. From the calculations the SA Revenue Service has made, the country was losing a R100m per month,” said Monyela. 

He said government would take action against diplomats found guilty of abuse of duty-free alcohol. 

“They probably thought they could get away with it because they have been doing it for so long. But government has decided enough is enough. We are going to take action because government can’t be abused in that way,” Monyela said.

On Friday, Dirco declared several diplomats “persona non-grata” following an intensive investigation into their alleged flouting of diplomatic privileges.

The diplomats and their families were given 72 hours to leave SA, and failure to do so would result in arrest. 

They were also expected to surrender their diplomatic status by returning all diplomatic tools to the department.

“This decision was taken in line with the Vienna Convention of 1961. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is fundamental to the conduct of foreign relations and ensures diplomats can conduct their duties without the threat of influence by the host government,” said Dirco. 

“Investigations of similar transgressions by other missions accredited to SA are at an advanced stage and similar action will be taken should they be found guilty,” the department said. 

Lesotho’s minister of foreign affairs and international relations Matšepo Ramakoae expressed disappointment, saying the country would wait for a full report from SA and take action against all affected diplomats. 

Malawi's Nation Online reported the country’s representatives at the high commission in Pretoria were allegedly expelled.

“According to multiple sources in government, the diplomats are accused of smuggling alcohol bought at duty-free shops in a scandal involving diplomats from several countries. We will keep you updated with more details,” claimed the publication. 


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