South Africa expelled several Malawian diplomats and gave them three days to leave for allegedly abusing their diplomatic privileges.
According to South Africa’s Ministry of International Relations, the expulsion followed an investigation which revealed the diplomats had been buying duty-free alcohol with cash and then reselling it to retailers.
It has not yet been determined how long the operations, which reportedly involved diplomats from other countries, had been going on. The ministry said a similar action will be taken against those missions if they are found guilty.
The South African Revenue Service estimated that the scandal had resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in unpaid taxes every month.
Malawi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement expressing its regret over the incident.
“The South African Government has taken this action in consonant with the provisions of the Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961,” a statement from the ministry said.
“The Government of Malawi wishes to inform the public that the Malawi Government has since conveyed its regret to the Republic of South Africa on the conduct of the concerned diplomats.”
The statement added that the government will take the necessary disciplinary measures against the diplomats upon their return adding that appropriate measures had been implemented to ensure the continuity of operations of the mission in Pretoria.
(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)