Johannesburg: The government has not
received any visa application from Dalai Lama to visit South
Africa, the Home Affairs ministry said Tuesday, amid fears that
the Tibetan spiritual leader may by denied permission to take
part in a birthday celebration of Desmond Tutu.
Local media reported at the weekend that the Dalai Lama
had submitted a visa application to visit South Africa to
participate in Fellow Nobel laureate Tutu`s 80th birthday
celebrations in Cape Town on October 7, with opposition party
leaders vowing to fight the government if it declined the
But the ministry said in a statement that while it had
noted the reports, there had been no such application yet by
the Dalai Lama.
The South African mission in New Delhi has not received
the visa application from Dalai Lama to visit the country, it
said, as concern mounted that the Tibetan leader may be
refused a visa by the government.
It said if an application was received by the mission in
India, it would be dealt with by the head office in Pretoria.
Tutu confirmed that the leader had accepted the
invitation, raising fears that the exiled leader may again be
treated as he was in 2009 when South Africa declined his
request to attend a peace conference where Nobel Prize winners
had gathered ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosted here.
At the time, there was a concern that South Africa might
upset its major trading partner China, if it acceded to the
Dalai Lama`s request.
He has lived in exile in India since fleeing Tibet after
an uprising against the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959.
China has accused the Buddhist leader of trying to split
the country by pushing for Tibetan independence.
However, the Dalai Lama has only advocated limited
autonomy for his homeland.