/ 4 September 2014

Dalai Lama visa application undergoing ‘due process’ – Dirco

Dirco has confirmed it received a visa application from the Dalai Lama.
Dirco has confirmed it received a visa application from the Dalai Lama.

The department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) has confirmed it has received a visa application from the Dalai Lama. The spiritual leader has twice, in 2009 and 2011, been refused entry into South Africa.

Dirco’s spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the application was “going through due process” and was being considered. He confirmed that the Dalai Lama had applied for a visa, but did not comment about the status of the application.   

When asked if the Dalai Lama’s visa will be denied for the reasons previously used to reject the spiritual leader’s application, Monyela said: “I am not talking about previous applications, the previous reasons he was denied the application were old reasons. We are looking at the current application by itself.”   

In March 2009, it was reported that South Africa refused to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama because it did not want to remove the world’s attention from the 2010 Soccer World Cup preparations. At the time, former president Kgalema Motlanthe’s spokesperson Thabo Masebe said the whole world was focused on South Africa as hosts of the Cup, and the government wanted the focus to remain on South Africa. 

“A visit now by the Dalai Lama would move the focus from South Africa onto issues in Tibet,” said Masebe. He added that even though China is South Africa’s a major trading partner, it played no role in the government’s decision. 

A statement released by the Nelson Mandela Foundation noted the response from Dirco regarding the visa application of the Dalai Lama and said: “We look forward to being in attendance at the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Cape Town together with His Holiness and other laureates.”

Again refused entry
In 2011, the spiritual leader and Nobel-prize winner was again refused entry into the country after anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu had invited him to give an inaugural peace lecture as part of celebrations for his 80th birthday. At the time, Dirco made the announcement that the Dalai Lama took a personal decision to cancel the trip. 

“The office of the Dalai Lama had informed the High Commission that His Holiness was traveling abroad and made the application without the original passport. He cancelled the trip while his application was still under consideration,” said Monyela. 

After the two visa rejections, the Dalai Lama did not apply for a visa to attend former president Nelson Mandela’s funeral. His office reported that he had no plans to go and would miss both the national memorial service and the burial. 

This is the third attempt in five years by the Dalai Lama to try and gain entry into South Africa. Monyela has denied that the current application will meet the same unfortunate result. “Dirco does not deny they received all the paper work necessary for a visa application. The applicant will be informed in due time,” he said.