Malawi regrets conduct of diplomats

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Malawi says it regrets the conduct of Malawian diplomats who have been given 72 hours to leave South Africa over illegal alcohol trade .

In a statement this evening, the Ministry says Government of Malawi has conveyed its regret to the overnment of South Africa over the conduct of the diplomats.

“Government of Malawi will take appropriate actions on the diplomats upon their return,” the ministry said.

It added that the Government of Malawi has put in place appropriate measures to ensure continuity of operations at the Malawi mission in Pretoria.

The expelled Malawi diplomats were working at the High Commission in Pretoria and at the Consulate in Johannesburg.

They have been declared persona non grata for abusing their privileges after the South African Government found that the diplomats were buying alcohol and cigarettes from duty-free shops in South Africa and then reselling the items.

The scandal reportedly robbed the South African Revenue Service (SARS) of an estimated R100 million (US$6.9m/ K5.5bn) in unpaid taxes every month.

Diplomats were buying the duty-free products in large volumes, mainly alcohol and cigarettes, purportedly for their own consumption, only to re-sell them in South Africa to businesses and liquor traders.

More than 2, 200 diplomats and family members made purchases, the most common commodities being rum, whiskey, brandy, liqueurs, cigarettes and cigars.

Diplomats from Eswatini, Lesotho, Ghana and Burundi have also been expelled over the alcohol smuggling scandal.

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