Govt acted unlawfully against Dalai Lama - court

2012-11-29 11:54
The Dalai Lama (File, AP)

The Dalai Lama (File, AP)

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Johannesburg - The Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled that government “deliberately delayed” a decision to grant the Dalai Lama a visa last year.

In a unanimous judgment, the court declared that former minister of home affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had deliberately delayed her decision by four months.

The IFP and Cope appealed against the dismissal of their application in the Western Cape High Court to have the department of home affairs’ refusal to grant the Dalai Lama a visa in time declared unlawful.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, applied for a visa to visit South Africa from October 5 to 15 2011.

He had planned on attending Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s birthday celebrations, among other events, but cancelled the trip when a visa was not granted in time amid speculation that the South African government would refuse him entry for fear of offending China.

The high court had found that the issue was moot because the Dalai Lama had cancelled his trip and dismissed the application with cost.

The SCA found that the available evidence justified a finding that a decision on the Dalai Lama’s visa was delayed to “avoid a decision”.

“It hardly needs saying that the minister is not entitled to deliberately procrastinate,” the court found.

The court did not however find that there was enough evidence to indicate that the delay had amounted to a refusal of the visa.

The respondents are to pay the costs of the applicants.

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