Supreme Court of Appeal to hear Dalai Lama visa case

"Because of its absurdity, the Dalai Lama case brings to the fore the extent to which our ruling class is beholden to the Chinese government," Inkatha Freedom Party justice spokesperson Mario Oriani-Ambrosini said in a statement previously. 

"Government's lawyers had argued in their papers that the refusal to grant a visa is justified by our government's intention not to displease the Chinese government," he said.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet.

He has won many awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, for promoting the cause of Tibet, and is welcome everywhere, except in South Africa and China. China invaded Tibet in 1950 and has occupied it since.

The Dalai Lama is a long-time friend of former president Nelson Mandela, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and former president FW De Klerk, who was the last president of the country in the apartheid era.

The case was expected to begin in Bloemfontein at 9.30am on Monday.

It was last heard in the Western Cape High Court, which dismissed with costs an application on whether it was constitutional for the government not to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama last year.

The Dalai Lama cancelled a trip to South Africa to attend Tutu's 80th birthday on October 4 in 2011. Tutu was outraged and said the current government was worse than the apartheid-era one.

At the time, the court found the issue was moot because the Dalai Lama, after getting no response to his visa application, cancelled his trip. Buthelezi had invited the Dalai Lama to visit the country this year. – Sapa

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