Several Malawian diplomats have been declared persona non grata by the South African government after being found guilty of trafficking in duty-free alcohol. Malawi’s Department of Foreign Affairs in Lilongwe confirmed that South Africa had given the diplomats and their families 72 hours to leave the country.
The Malawian diplomats were found guilty of illegal trade in duty-free alcohol. The decision was taken in accordance with the 1961 Vienna Convention. « The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is fundamental to the conduct of foreign relations and ensures that diplomats can perform their duties without the threat of influence from the host government, » Pretoria said.
« However, in cases where such privileges are abused, the host country is obliged to take the necessary measures in accordance with the convention. To this end, the South African government has given the diplomatic personnel involved and their families 72 hours to leave South Africa. They are expected to relinquish their diplomatic status by returning to Dirco all diplomatic tools at their disposal, » the South African government said.
« Investigations into similar transgressions by other accredited missions are at an advanced stage and similar action will be taken if they are found guilty. Accordingly, the South African government calls on all diplomatic missions accredited to the Republic to respect, uphold and comply with all laws of the land, including adherence to the requirements of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, » it added.
Several Lesotho diplomats were expelled from South Africa on Thursday 10 June on similar grounds. South African media reported that cash-strapped Lesotho diplomats had brought alcohol into the country without paying duty and then sold it in bars and restaurants.