Minister's refusal to scan bag costs SA

2011-09-16 10:44
Johannesburg - The refusal of a minister to have her handbag scanned at an airport in Oslo, Norway, cost South African taxpayers just over R235 000, according to a report in the Mail & Guardian on Friday.

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane was on a state visit this month when she refused to pass her handbag through an x-ray scanner.

As a result she missed her scheduled commercial flight to her next diplomatic engagement in Bulgaria.

A private charter executive jet was then hired to transport her.

It cost taxpayers a total of R235 343, according to her department.

It was unclear what the minister was carrying in her handbag and why she was keen to avoid security screening, said the newspaper.

In its response the department said that the Vienna Convention exempted diplomats from luggage searches at airports, and that the minister - as the country's top diplomat - was right to stand her ground.

"[There was nothing in her handbag] which could not be disclosed. This matter was not about the contents of the luggage. It's a matter of principle," spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.

Read more on:    international relations  |  maite nkoana-mashabane  |  sa  |  norway

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