The Department of International Relations and Co-operation has asked the State Security Agency to investigate whether it should withdraw the security clearance of the eight diplomats before they could be expelled.
Among the top diplomats affected are former ANC chief whip, now South Africa’s ambassador to Germany, Stone Sizani, and ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane, who was arrested after attending a gathering after it was prohibited. Another diplomat is Mthembisi Mjikeliso, who was convicted for culpable homicide in Botswana. The latter is South Africa’s charge d’affaires in that country.
Sizani was found guilty of public violence and violating the Value Added Tax Act.
South Africa’s political counsellor in Bulgaria, BP Motloung, was arrested for reckless and negligent driving.
International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela referred enquiries to the State Security Department, whose spokesperson Brian Dube could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
There are other diplomats who have also been arrested and found guilty of other offences. In a recent written reply in Parliament, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said no decision had been taken on the future of these diplomats.
“When an official has committed a crime, a full vetting investigation is conducted in order to determine if his or her security clearance must be withdrawn. If it is withdrawn, the official will not be able to be posted again as a security clearance is a requirement for a posting,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.
She listed eight diplomats who were arrested for various offences abroad.
The other diplomats who are under investigation are P Mukeni, who is accused of reckless and negligent driving. Motlaung was also arrested and charged with a similar offence in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria.
It is not clear how soon the agency will conclude the investigation into the security clearance of the diplomats. In the past, other South African diplomats were found on the wrong side of the law in foreign countries.
Former ambassador to Japan Mohau Pheko was found to have falsified her PhD qualifications. She was discovered to have obtained her degree from a fake university.
South Africa has more than 100 diplomatic missions across the globe after the government said it wanted to strengthen relations with most of the countries.
South Africa also has strong trade relations with its traditional partners in the US and Europe.