South Africa has expelled diplomats from Malawi for buying alcohol and cigarettes from duty-free shops in South Africa and then reselling the items.
Minister of Information Gospel Kazako has confirmed but did not mention the number of diplomat chased out.
“We confirm the reports circulating of the expulsion of all Malawian diplomats in South Africa after the South African Government declared them persona non grata.
“The diplomats have been told to be out of South Africa by Monday, 14th June, 2021. The South African government is accusing them of abusing tax-free privileges on alcohol through smuggling, said Kazako on Facebook.
He added that Malawi cherishes the bilateral relationship with the South African Government and the development will not affect the cordial ties.
Diplomats from Eswatini, Lesotho, Ghana and Burundi have also been expelled over the alcohol smuggling scandal.
South African media reported about the scandal last month saying authorities were investigating several diplomats.
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.