Cape High Court: 6 December 2011
Thank you all for being here today. By being
here each of you is supporting the statement that democracy
belongs to everyone and we all share an equal measure of
responsibility to protect it.
We live in a democracy shaped by the
Constitution. Under the Constitution, the courts are the final
venue where democracy is protected, where wrongs are righted and
where those who have been deprived of a voice can finally be
heard and their grievances redressed.
We all know that by barring the entry of the
Dalai Lama, our Government did wrong. We have come here, to this
court, to put it right. Your presence here today signifies that
the Government wronged much more than the Dalai Lama himself.
The Government wronged all South African citizens who cared
about associating with the Dalai Lama and receiving his
religious and inspirational message. In so doing, our Government
violated our constitutional freedoms of associations, religion
and political activity.
There is something else that on this occasion
we must redress through our collective actions. In fact, our
Government did more than breach our constitutional rights. It
acted in a manner which belittled the dignity of our Republic
and its institutions.
When two years ago our Government barred the
Dalai Lama, it took the position that it never refused the Dalai
Lama a visa because, it said, the Dalai Lama had not applied. It
turned out that the Dalai Lama had tried to apply four times and
his attempts to submit his applications were wrongfully
rejected. We are here to express our contempt towards a
Government which resorts to such untruths to justify its
This was two years ago. On the most recent
occasion our Government conducted itself with similar lack of
decency. The Minister of Home Affairs has stated under oath that
she did not refuse a visa to the Dalai Lama but that rather just
had no time to process his visa application. Yet the Dalai Lama
went to apply for a visa four months in advance and was told
that it was too early and to come back after two months. His
application remained with the Minister of Home Affairs for two
months and was withdrawn only after it became too late for the
Dalai Lama to travel to South Africa in time to attend
Archbishop Tutu 's 80th birthday.
This ducking and diving, these juvenile
excuses, these untruths are unbecoming of a democratic
government of a respectable country.
All facts about the Dalai Lama are universally
known and are well known to our Government because the Dalai
Lama has applied for visas on several occasions.
He received several entry visas until three years ago.
Therefore, the decision of whether to issue
him a visa should not take more than a day. By delaying as much
as she did, the Minister of Home Affairs denied the Dalai Lama a
visa without the courage or the decency of openly admitting
having done so.
We are here today to state this misconduct is
not only unlawful and required to be corrected by the courts,
but are also contrary to how we expect our government to behave.
If our government can deal in this manner in respect of a Nobel
Peace Laureate who is universally recognized as a champion of
goodwill, nonviolence and reconciliation, what constraints will
our Government respect when dealing with us all?
We are here to demand respect for the Dalai Lama but also
to protect ourselves and our freedom from this and any future
Thank you for making this important statement.
Your statement today will be heard and not forgotten.