Lesotho diplomats expelled from SA over illicit booze racket

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Lesotho diplomats in SA have been accused of dealing in illicit alcohol.
Lesotho diplomats in SA have been accused of dealing in illicit alcohol.
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Lesotho said on Thursday that several of its diplomats had been expelled from South Africa over the illicit peddling of duty-free alcohol.

The foreign affairs ministry in Maseru said South Africa had given the diplomats and their families 72 hours to leave the country.

South Africa had taken the decision because the diplomats violated laws "specifically, the illicit trade in duty-free alcohol", it said in a statement.

South African media have reported that cash-strapped Lesotho diplomats have been bringing alcohol into the country, without paying duty, and then re-selling it in bars and restaurants.

READ | SARS busts diplomats for allegedly selling illicit alcohol, cheating taxman out of R100m per month

The ministry expressed "disappointment and embarrassment that several Basotho diplomats...have been declared persona non grata" by South Africa.

It vowed disciplinary action when the officers return home.

READ | SA diplomat who 'trashed' Vienna apartment accused of causing R53k in damage in India

A leaked note from the South African government, sent to the foreign ministry in Maseru, lists 12 diplomats, including spouses, who "have abused their diplomatic privileges".

South Africa's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to queries for comment from AFP.

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