South African COVID-19 national lockdown.

Diplomats accused of smuggling alcohol into South Africa without paying duty, and reselling it at local bars and restaurants, have been given 72 hours to leave.

Photo by Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance via Getty Images.

African Diplomats Kicked Out Of South Africa For Selling Booze Illegally

So far, Lesotho and Malawi diplomats were expelled after South African officials discovered that they had been involved in illicit alcohol trading.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) of South Africa recently informed the Kingdom of Lesotho and Malawi that a number of its diplomats and their dependants were caught abusing their diplomatic privileges. The announcement also included the fact that the diplomats involved in this alcohol scandal have been declared Persona Non Grata in the Republic of South Africa and given three days to leave the country with their families.

Widespread media reports divulged how Lesotho and Malawi diplomats have been smuggling alcohol into South Africa without paying duty, and reselling it at local bars and restaurants. It is expected that over 200 diplomats from other countries accused of the same crime will also be kicked out in the coming weeks.

In response to the news, the Lesotho Ministry of International Relations announced that it condemned the actions of the diplomats, and was disappointed in the activities of its officers. It further stated that disciplinary action would follow once the officers returned to Lesotho.

"The Ministry of International Relations has learnt with disappointment and embarrassment that several Basotho diplomats serving in the Republic of South Africa at Lesotho High Commission in Pretoria and Lesotho Consulate in Johannesburg, have been declared Persona Non Grata by the Government of The Republic of South Africa. The diplomats and their families have been given 72 hours to depart South Africa and relinquish their diplomatic status," read the statement.

Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera had scathing words for the disgraced officials from his country, describing them as "unfortunate, despicable and unprofessional," according to a Xinhua Net report. "I assured the President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, that the conduct of these individuals does not represent the values of my administration and the Malawian people, nor does it reflect the cordial and warm bilateral relations between our two countries," said President Chakwera.

Taxes from alcoholic beverages account for a high percentage of the South African Gross Domestic Product (GDP). According to Business Techthe three alcohol bans enacted by the South African government to curb the spread of COVID-19 amounted to a loss of R29.3 billion – the equivalent of 2.3% of tax revenue.