Calls on minister to pay back R235 000
Cape Town - The DA has repeated its call on International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to pay back R235 000 she spent on chartering a private jet.
The jet was chartered during a state visit to Norway earlier this month, after Nkoana-Mashabane refused to allow her handbag to be passed through a scanner at Gardemoen International Airport in Oslo, and missed her commercial flight.
Her department said at the time that the Vienna Convention exempted diplomats from luggage searches at airports and that the minister was right to stand her ground.
Democratic Alliance MP Lindiwe Mazibuko said on Sunday this was not correct.
"The Vienna Convention does not exempt the luggage of diplomatic officials from pre-flight X-ray scanning," she said in a statement.
Article 36 of the convention merely prohibited the routine inspection of diplomats’ luggage, unless it was suspected to contain items "prohibited by the law or controlled by the quarantine regulations of the receiving State".
The convention said nothing about scanning the luggage in an X-ray machine.
"In fact, according to the provisions of Annex 17 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation on Aviation Security, diplomats and their personal baggage must always be subject to routine pre-boarding screening as it applies to civil aviation security."
Mazibuko said the department had cited the Vienna Convention as a "convenient red herring" to spare the minister embarrassment.
"The rules state clearly that she should have allowed her handbag to be scanned by airport security officials."
Mazibuko said a key question was why the minister refused to put her handbag through the scanner.
"Was she trying to hide something? According to reports, she didn’t just refuse. She kicked up a fuss that was clearly audible to other passengers boarding the flight.
"We may never know what was in the minister’s handbag. But we can recoup the public money that was spent on the private jet. I reiterate my call for Minister Nkoana-Mashabane to pay back the money from her own purse," Mazibuko said.