Dalai Lama high court bid a ‘slam dunk’ case

Judgment was reserved in the Western Cape High Court on Monday on whether it was constitutional for government to bar the Dalai Lama entry into South Africa.

Judge Dennis Davis said he hoped to let the court know when he would deliver his decision before the end of the year.

The Dalai Lama cancelled his intended trip to South Africa to attend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday on October 4.

He said he had done so to avoid inconveniencing the South African government.

The government’s failure to grant the visa sparked a public outcry with Tutu accusing President Jacob Zuma’s administration of being “worse than the apartheid government”.

‘Slam dunk’
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and Congress of the People (Cope) subsequently filed an application in the high court for an order declaring Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s handling of the matter unlawful and forcing her to treat future applications by the Dalai Lama fairly.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has invited the Dalai Lama to visit him in 2012.

Anton Katz, who is arguing for the applicants, said he was confident about winning the case.

“I think we have slam dunk,” he said.

A home affairs official, however, believed the case was “50-50”.

Moot issue
“It’s 50-50,” she said. “It may even be more than that.”

During arguments Davis questioned whether the application by the IFP and Cope was a “moot” issue as the Dalai Lama had withdrawn his visa application and had not applied for another.

Davis also said the government had been faced with “difficult questions” before deciding whether to grant the Dalai Lama a visa to visit South Africa.

“What would have happened if you gave the Dalai Lama a visa and next day China said we are cancelling R3-billion of investment?” Davis asked advocate Max du Plessis, representing the Cope.

“These are difficult questions for them,” he said. — Sapa

Thebe Mabanga
Thebe Mabanga works from Gauteng, South Africa. Corporate Comms Officer. NEF. Thebe Mabanga has over 838 followers on Twitter.
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