Lesotho distances itself from booze diplomats

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…as they are declared persona non grata

By Pulane Chaka

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations has released a statement distancing the country from 12 diplomats who were declared persona non grata by the Republic of South Africa for abusing their diplomatic status.

The ministry said it is “disappointment and embarrassment” at the 12 diplomats and their dependents who were found to have been abusing their diplomatic status.

KDNews understands the diplomats are part of a diplomats’ syndicate that is accused of having opened bars and cheated the South African Revenue Services about M100 million in unpaid taxes.

The diplomats, KDNews understand the diplomats abused their access to duty-free goods by purchasing alcohol duty-free and selling it.

Pictures of some of the Lesotho diplomats who have been declared persona non grata where they displayed their stashes of expensive alcohol that included single malt whiskeys and champagnes were seen on their social media profiles.

This follows a diplomatic correspondence by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa through the High Commission stating that the 12 diplomats and their dependents had “abused their diplomatic privileges,” which subsequently got them declared persona non grata.

The Ministry declared that the Republic “took this action under the terms of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961” which reads:

“Article 9. The host nation at any time and for any reason can declare a particular member of the diplomatic staff to be persona non grata. The sending state must recall this person within a reasonable period of time, or otherwise this person may lose their diplomatic immunity”.

The Ministry further expressed that the diplomats were being sent packing because they failed to “comply with the laws of the Republic of South Africa; specifically, the illicit trade in duty-free alcohol”.

The diplomats and their family members have been given 72 hours to leave South Africa.

The ministry said it will take appropriate disciplinary measures against the diplomats upon their return.

In a statement to the High Commission of the Kingdom of Lesotho, the department of international relations and cooperation of South Africa said the following diplomats and their dependents have abused their diplomatic privileges and declared persona non grata.

Mrs Malika Sylviah Molapo-Mphofe who was a counsellor

Ms Keketso Halio Makhupane who was a first Secretary

Mr Jane Lekunya  who was a Third Secretary

Mrs Malebohang Jane who was an Attaché (Administration)

Mr Cephas Kolouoane Jane  who is the Spouse to Mrs M Jane

Mr Ketso Pitrose Kalake who was an Attaché (Driver)

Mrs Mathato Joyce Kalake who is the Spouse of Mr KP Kalake

Ms Limakatso Mafelesi Spouse of Mr L J Ralebesi, Consular Attaché (Amin) (Durban)

Mr teboho Charles Letsela who was the Consular Attaché (Johannesburg)

Mr Molefi John Matsoso Assistant Attaché (Johannesburg)

Mrs Makhotso Angelinah Matsoso the Spouse of Mr MJ Matsoso

Mrs Makagiso Anicia Mabeleng the Spouse of Mr K mabeleng Consular Attaché (Johannesburg)