Dalai Lama visa row going to court

2011-10-17 20:00

Cape Town - The IFP and Cope on Monday filed notice in the Western Cape High Court that they will seek an order declaring the government's handling of the Dalai Lama's visa request unlawful and forcing it to treat future applications by him fairly.

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini said the issue would arise again soon as the Dalai Lama had been invited to attend an inter-faith prayer meeting in South Africa in March next year.

"We cannot allow this wrong to stand. It is a flagrant wrong, repeated twice," he told reporters in Cape Town.

"It is in the eyes and mouths of all South Africans. This is how people with no courage, no dignity, deal with a problem - by just leaving it," he said.

Oriani-Ambrosini was referring the government's refusal in 2009 to grant the Dalai Lama a visa.

Documents tabled at court on Monday included affidavits by the Dalai Lama's representative for Africa.

They explain how both that application and another filed in September this year to allow the Tibetan spiritual leader to attend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday were frustrated.

Sonam Tenzing said the Dalai Lama's staff tried since July to submit an application to the Indian high commission in New Delhi but were told several times that they could not do so because the mission was waiting for "clearance" from Pretoria to accept it.

The application was finally accepted on September 8 with assurances that it would be speedily processed.

Instead, Tenzing said, this marked the start of weeks of fruitless attempts by the Dalai Lama's representative in India, Tampa Tsering, to check on the outcome.

"The days began to pass without any clear word from the commission. Whenever Mr Tsering made inquiries, he was always told that they were awaiting authorisation from Pretoria.

"I am, and continue to be, of the view that such obfuscation and delay was disrespectful to the Dalai Lama."

Oriani-Ambrosini said Tenzing's testimony indicated that the Dalai Lama's office was not only aware of the court challenge but supported it.


Lawyer Gary Eisenberger will table the court application on November 22.

He said the court would be asked to declare that the government had failed to consider the application properly in terms of the Immigration Act.

He contended that the minister of home affairs, the first respondent, may not delegate her department's responsibility to process visa applications to any other - in this case the department of international relations.

"Others may assist the department, but the minister cannot shirk her responsibilities by tossing the buck over to the department of international relations."

Home affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said on Monday the application had been referred to international relations because of the high profile of the Dalai Lama.

"The department has not yet been served with these papers. We will await the serving of these papers before we can comment," he said.

"The Dalai Lama was not a simple administrative or bureaucratic issue but a matter that has political and diplomatic implications and hence we referred it to our department of international relations and co-operation."

The government has been accused of bowing to pressure from China, who deems the Dalai Lama a separatist and discourages foreign nations from hosting him.

The IFP brought a court application in 2009 to have the government's decision not to grant the Dalai Lama a visa overturned.

The Western Cape High Court threw out the case and the party then took it to the Constitutional Court, but it has not yet been heard.

Oriani-Ambrosini said the new application would override the earlier one.

  • John - 2011-10-17 20:13

    “ The Gang of Four Chinese Communist Party members came to power during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), and were charged with a series of treasonous crimes. The gang consisted of Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong's last wife as the leading figure of the group, and her close associates Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen. In 1980, the trials of the Gang of Four began. Among the prosecution’s charge of actual crimes were the usurpation of state power and party leadership; the persecution of some 750,000 people, 34,375 of whom died during the period 1966-76. It was at this trial that Jiang Qing made the famous quote: "I was Chairman Mao's dog. I bit whomever he asked me to bite." Jiang Qing was sentenced to death in 1981. “ Source Wikipidia. I was inspired to write a song commemorating the death of such evil people: Shoot the dogs, Shoot the dogs, Shoot the dogs of Mao Tse Tsung! Auss! Auss, Auss! Auss! Auss Auss! Shoot the dogs, Shoot the dogs, Shoot the dogs of Jiang Qing! Auss! Auss, Auss! Auss! Auss Auss! Shoot the dogs, Shoot the dogs, Shoot the dogs Gang of Four! Auss! Auss, Auss! Auss! Auss Auss!

      jacques.koorts - 2011-10-17 20:22

      You have too much time on your hands mate.

      Reynold - 2011-10-18 16:40


  • ajay.bhowan - 2011-10-17 20:43

    The whole point of the application is to hold government accountable to the constitution - this entire episode is ridiculous and government needs to be forced to explain their actions...

  • Dirk - 2011-10-17 20:44

    S.A will soon have another official language....CHINESE.

  • bronwyngrobler - 2011-10-17 21:22

    Anyone wonder why News 24 needs access to your FB page? Not sure I like the idea!

      Vuyo - 2011-10-17 22:00

      Yes Bronwyn, this is seriously worrying. Just create another/different FB page. Why the need to force people to create a FB page?

  • marco.tomaso - 2011-10-17 22:02

    It's pointless doing that IFP and Cope honestly.You people that are still living in South Africa lives under a sprawling,routinely corrupt and negligent African style of governance.A country in which around 20% of all government procurements or lets say about $3.8 billion,go missing each year-most of which gets stolen and the rest being untraceable because of negligence.Corruption and patronage in South Africa have replaced principle and promised transparency.The ground has shifted bigtime in SA. Author Njabulo S. Ndebele wrote that "South Africa have become corrupted by the attractions of instant wealth,reflecting a potentially catastrophic collapse in the once cohesive understanding of the post-apartheid project as embodied in our constitution.The ANC functions as a state within the state,and it thinks it is the state." South Africa's ANC has cast itself as moral beacon against tyranny,but at the same time adopted a particular prism for its foreign policy,blending its debts to those who supported it in the liberation struggle,a suspicion of Western influence and a hard-nosed pragmatism. The A.N.C. regime resembles the Apartheid one that it succeeded,by deciding to take sides with the oppressor,in this case China.As Tutu said:"Mr.Zuma,you and your government don’t represent me,...You represent your own interests." Indeed South Africa has slipped from their Moral High Ground and the ANC no longer represents democratic South Africans who voted them into power.

  • Myth - 2011-10-17 22:09

    PW Botha is dead, long live PW Botha...

  • Peter - 2011-10-18 04:58

    Some real news at last!

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