Giving them a 72-hour ultimatum to leave the country, South Africa expelled them along with their dependents.
The diplomats were regularly bringing alcohol into the host country without paying duty before re-selling it in local bars and restaurants.
The government of Lesotho has described this development as shameful and unequivocally distanced itself from those responsible.
“This is shameful,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Principal Secretary, Colonel Tanki Mothae said.
“They abused their privileges because they knew they could not be arrested. That is why South Africa has decided to declare them Persona Non Grata,” Col Mothae added.
A peeved government of Lesotho on Thursday night issued a statement promising to deal with the ignominious diplomats as soon as they get home.
A leaked verbal note from the South African government addressed to the High Commission of Lesotho in Pretoria from South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation said it had “the honour to notify the Mission that a number of diplomats and their dependents have abused their diplomatic privileges.
“The Department hereby informs the High Commission that due to the abuse of their diplomatic privileges the following diplomats and their dependents are declared Persona Non Grata in the Republic of South Africa.”
The 12 diplomats are:
- Mrs Malika Sylviah Molapo-Mphofe Counsellor
- Ms Keketso Halio Makhupane First Secretary
- Mr Jane Lekunya Third Secretary
- Mrs ’Malebohang Jane Attaché (Administration)
- Mr Cephas Kolouoane Jane Spouse of Mrs Jane
- Mr Ketso Petrose Kalake Attaché (driver)
- Mrs ’Mathato Joyce Kalake Spouse of Mr KP Kalake
- Ms Limakatso Mafelesi Spouse of Mr LJ Ralebesi, Consular Attache (Admin) (Durban)
- Mr Teboho Charles Letsela Consular Attaché (Johannesburg)
- Mr Molefi John Matsoso Assistant Attaché (Johannesburg)
- Mrs ’Makhotso Angelinah Matsoso Spouse of Mr MJ Matsoso
- Mrs Makagiso Anicia Mabeleng Spouse of Mr K Mabeleng Consular Attache (Johannesburg)
“The above mentioned diplomats and their dependents are instructed to depart from the national territory of the Republic of South Africa within 72 hours,” the department of international relations said.
It instructed the Lesotho mission to ensure that the diplomatic identity cards of the envoys, their dependents and attendant privileges be returned to the department within three working days for cancellation.
“Their passports should be submitted to the department with immediate effect in order for the temporary residence visas to be cancelled and to issue them with exit visas. Diplomatic vehicles should also be deregistered,” it said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations expressed how it had learnt “with disappointment and embarrassment that several Basotho diplomats serving in South Africa, at Lesotho High Commission in Pretoria and Lesotho Consulate in Johannesburg, had been declared Persona Non Grata by the government of the republic of South Africa.