Judgment reserved in Dalai Lama visa case

2012-11-12 14:49

Judgment has been reserved in the case in which the IFP and Cope seek to have the department of home affairs’ failure to grant the Dalai Lama a visa in time last year declared unlawful.

The case was last heard in the Western Cape High Court, which dismissed the application with costs.

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.

An outraged Tutu at the time said the current government was worse than the apartheid-era government.

The high court had found that the issue was moot because the Dalai Lama had cancelled his trip.

The IFP and Cope subsequently approached the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

Anton Katz SC, representing the IFP, and Max du Plessis, representing Cope, are seeking a court order to declare the conduct of the department unlawful as it had failed to grant the visa in a reasonable time.

But Marumo Moerane SC, representing the department of home affairs, said there had still been time for the visa application to be processes and that the Dalai Lama would have been able to attend some of the events on his itinerary.

He could, however, not explain how long it takes to process an application for a visa for a high profile person like the Dalai Lama and when exactly the minister was informed of his intention to visit.

Moerane said the minister was waiting for a response from the department of international affairs at the time but that exact dates were not provided in the minister’s affidavit.

“Our submission is that the minister obviously wanted the input from her colleagues at the department of international affairs and that she knew about the visit since early June,” said Moerane.

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