The government's decision to deny the Dalai Lama an entry visa into the country may well have cost the country its peace conference.
On Tuesday, conveners of the peace conference hastily postponed the event indefinitely because of the controversy around the government's decision to bar the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
This means South Africa's Hollywood princess and newly appointed UN Peace Ambassador, Charlize Theron, will not be visiting the country.
The Dalai Lama - the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate - was among the international dignitaries billed to attend Friday's peace conference in Johannesburg. The conference had the backing of South African laureates Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and F W de Klerk.
Tutu and De Klerk have said they will boycott the event if the Dalai Lama is not given a visa.
A visibly disappointed Chief Mandla Mandela, who is Mandela's grandson, lashed out at the government for treating the Tibetan leader as if he were persona non grata in the country. "To deny someone like the Dalai Lama, whom all other laureates hold in high esteem, is sad," said the chief, who is one of the aborted conference's organisers, with Premier Soccer League chairperson Irvin Khoza.
Thabo Masebe, speaking for President Kgalema Motlanthe, reiterated the government's position that the Dalai Lama's visit would not be in the best interests of the country.
Meanwhile, China's ministerial counsellor at its embassy in Pretoria, Dai Bing, was quoted on Tuesday as saying his government had urged Pretoria to bar the Dalai Lama, or risk damaging relations between his country and South Africa.
full story from IOL here