South Africa has issued a 72-hour ultimatum to 12 Lesotho diplomats and their families to leave the country for abuse of diplomatic privilege following reports of their involvement in peddling of duty-free alcohol.
Lesotho’s Foreign Affairs and International Relations ministry confirmed the setback on Thursday saying they had learnt with “disappointment and embarrassment that several Basotho diplomats serving in the Republic of South Africa, at Lesotho High Commission in Pretoria and the Consul in Johannesburg have been declared Persona non grata by the South African government.”
According to reports, the deported diplomats have been bringing alcohol into the country without paying duty and then re-selling it in bars and restaurants.
In a statement, the Foreign Affairs ministry in Lesotho said it will take disciplinary action against the officers when they return home.
“The government of the Kingdom of Lesotho distances itself and condemns the actions of the said diplomats in the strongest terms. Measures are underway to ensure their return in the stipulated 72 hours,” reads the statement.
A leaked note from the South African government sent to the foreign ministry in Maseru, listing 12 diplomats, including spouses who “have abused their diplomatic privileges”.