Nortons Inc. successful in Dalai Lama visa appeal before the SCA

10 May 2012|In Significant Matters

The Dalai Lama was recently unable to attend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday celebrations in South Africa due to the Department of Home Affairs’ (the “department”) failure to grant him a visa. The legality and constitutionality of the department’s widely criticised conduct was challenged in an application launched by two opposition political parties in the Western Cape High Court. On 29 November 2012, the SCA upheld an appeal by leaders of the Inkatha Freedom Party (“IFP”) and Congress of the People (“COPE”) against the Minister of Home Affairs for not granting a visa to the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader. The SCA held that the Minister of Home Affairs had acted unlawfully by “unreasonably [delaying] her decision” to grant a visa. The SCA concluded that the reason for such a delay was to avoid putting strain on South Africa’s political relations with China, which is asserting sovereignty over the Dalai Lama’s country of Tibet. The SCA stated that: “… the evidence is an inference that the matter was deliberately delayed so as to avoid a decision. It hardly needs saying that the Minister is not entitled to deliberately procrastinate.” Nortons Inc. represented COPE in this matter.

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