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South Africa expels Lesotho diplomats over illicit alcohol trade

11/06/2021 10:18 AM

JOHANNESBURG, June 11-- The government of Lesotho said that a number of its diplomats serving in South Africa have been expelled for not complying with the laws of their host country.

“The diplomats and their families have been given 72 hours to depart South Africa and relinquish their diplomatic status,” according to Anadolu quoting the statement of Lesotho’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations. 

The ministry said it received the news with disappointment and embarrassment after the diplomats were declared persona non grata for misusing their diplomatic privileges to deal in the illicit trade of duty-free alcohol.

The affected diplomats have been reportedly getting alcohol at duty-free prices or shops and exporting it for resale to their mountain kingdom country, which is completely surrounded by South Africa. They have also been reportedly selling the untaxed alcohol at local bars and shops, in turn defrauding the South African Revenue Services (SARS).

Diplomats are allowed to pass through border posts without declaring goods in their possession. They are also allowed to buy goods at lower prices without being taxed for use at their diplomatic missions.

“The government and kingdom of Lesotho distances itself and condemns the actions of the said diplomats in the strongest terms,” the statement said, adding disciplinary action will follow once the officers return home.

South Africa’s Foreign Ministry is yet to issue a statement on the matter.


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