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SA diplomats behaving badly: DIRCO lumped with R10m bill for ‘property damage’

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DIRCO Minister Naledi Pandor has revealed that the ministry has had to pay out almost R10 million in lost deposits since the end of 2015, due to the allegedly ‘reckless behaviour’ of some South African diplomats. Scores of properties rented for our officials have refused to pay back the cash – mainly because of property damage caused by the tenants.

Mounting costs of ‘diplomats behaving badly’

The shocking admission came during Pandor’s response to a Parliamentary question. The DA raised the issue in 2020, and the minister came clean about the extent of the costs. Put it this way, their behaviour hasn’t been very… diplomatic:

  • DIRCO has lost deposits from 101 properties rented abroad for diplomatic purposes.
  • All of these transgressions have taken place over the last five years.
  • A total of R9 393 429 has been lost due to damages to property, deposits being used by landlords for maintenance work and repair of damages, or the leases being terminated by mission outside the terms and conditions.

DIRCO slammed for letting dignitaries ‘run riot’

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Darren Bergman is the DA’s Shadow Minister for DIRCO. He initially posed the question after SA’s consul-general in Los Angeles, Thandile Sunduza, made headlines for all the wrong reasons last year. The former MP is accused of rejecting 30 properties offered to her, as she was ‘hellbent’ on securing a pad in Beverley Hills.  

Her list of demands for one landlord was made public. It included importing furniture from abroad and making drastic changes to kitchen cupboards and wall units. Though Sunduza isn’t implicated in any property damage, the diplomat’s behaviour has now directed attention towards an alarming trend: Some of our dignitaries think they’re on their jollies…

Bergman, meanwhile, has told DIRCO he is far from impressed with these latest developments…

“Our diplomats should be held directly responsible for the damages they cause. This embarrassing issue is clearly illustrated in the ongoing Los Angeles saga where the consul-general there, Thandile Sunduza, has yet to find a suitable property to call home. How many vaccines or PPE could have been bought had this money not been thrown in the water?”

“With South African diplomats clearly showing a history of being terrible tenants, is it any wonder we’re having trouble renting a home for Sunduza? These negligent and reckless diplomats – who through their actions are painting South Africans in a bad light – are directly contravening their mandate to build brand South Africa.

Darren Bergman

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