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Proof Dalai Lama did apply for SA visa
The Times[Friday, April 03, 2009 13:24]
Yazeed Kamaldien

Court papers show the Dalai Lama DID apply for a visa to visit SA

PROOF: The Dalai Lama’s visa application
PROOF: The Dalai Lama’s visa application
THE South African government lied — it did receive the Dalai Lama’s visa application, but did not want the Tibetan leader in the country.

That’s what lawyers for Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi will try to prove in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town today.

The 80-year-old politician has taken President Kgalema Motlanthe, Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma and Home Affairs director-general Mavuso Msimang to court for not giving the Dalai Lama a visa to enter South Africa last week to attend a peace conference.

The lawyers submitted copies of the Dalai Lama’s passport and his application for a South African visa to the high court yesterday.

This followed Msimang’s assertion, on behalf of Home Affairs, that there exists “no evidence that the Dalai Lama is desirous of entering South Africa at this stage or any time in the future”.

Buthelezi’s responding affidavit yesterday also contains details from Tempa Tsering, the Dalai Lama’s representative in New Delhi, who said that his staff contacted Sehlolo Moloi, the South African High Commissioner to India, on February 11 to ask for a visa for the Dalai Lama. He said they met Moloi on March3.

Tsering said Moloi asked him if they could “postpone the visit to South Africa as they have some inconveniences”.

“I informed the high commissioner that His Holiness was invited by the South African Peace Conference and the South African [Nobel] laureates, and that the meeting dates have been confirmed from March 26 to 28. It is therefore not up to His Holiness to postpone his visit and the South African government must contact the hosts,” he said.

“The high commissioner mentioned that he would take up the matter again with his government and get back to us. I called him several times, but he was busy. I managed to talk to him … [he] mentioned the South African government was in contact with the host and will keep us informed.

“We submitted the visa application forms for His Holiness and seven entourage members. I was told I should take the applications back and they will let us know when these could be submitted again,” Tsering said.

Sonam Tenzing, the representative of the Dalai Lama in South Africa, said in his affidavit that the “high commissioner refused to accept and process such [visa] application”.

He reiterated that the Dalai Lama was asked “not [to] apply for a visa to travel to South Africa at this juncture”.

“Nonetheless, His Holiness completed and signed a visa application and caused it to be submitted to the South African High Commission in New Delhi, together with a passport,” said Tenzing.

Buthelezi now wants the court to force the government to grant the Dalai Lama an entry visa.

“I deny that no application for a visa to South Africa was submitted to or by the Dalai Lama. It is bizarre for such an allegation to be made. The Dalai Lama did duly complete and submit an application for a visa … but his submission was rejected,” Buthelezi said.

Former president FW de Klerk and retired archbishop Desmond Tutu were among the guests invited to the conference and withdrew from the event after the visa was denied.

The event was later shelved.

“I am advised the Dalai Lama is ready to come to South Africa this weekend. As time goes by, it will become difficult to reorganise the diaries of so many international leaders ,” said Buthelezi. “The peace conference can and will be held as early as next week if the Dalai Lama is permitted to enter South Africa.”

Additional reporting by Werner Swart
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