Diplomats are not doormats

When local criminals target foreigners - especially dignitaries - visiting this country, many South Africans must surely feel a sense of outrage and shame that we're unable to protect our visitors.

When local criminals target foreigners - especially dignitaries - visiting this country, many South Africans must surely feel a sense of outrage and shame that we're unable to protect our visitors.

More so because this type of crime has become so common as to reinforce international pessimism about South Africa, with all its natural beauty and other wonders, being unable to contain its crime situation.

Prompting this topic is the series of crime incidents involving local and foreign dignitaries - the latest victim being Tanzanian High Commissioner Emmanuel Mwambulukutu, who was yesterday reported to be in a critical condition in hospital after he was beaten unconscious at a residence in Pretoria last Friday. His wife and seven other guests were assaulted and robbed.

Mwambulukutu became the sixth foreign diplomat to be attacked at his home last year.

In February, gangsters robbed six US embassy officials after breaking into the home of an embassy employee in Waterkloof Ridge, Pretoria. A Vietnamese embassy official Quonchung Nguyen was shot in the stomach by robbers who entered his home in the embassy compound.

Defence attache of the French embassy Denis Fabre, his wife and two young children were held up by armed robbers who looted their home in Sandton and then drove off in their car loaded with valuables.

This is not forgetting the robbery incident in which South Africa's UN envoy Dumisane Khumalo and his family were attacked in their home in Johannesburg last year.

These attacks send a negative signal to the world about the lack of adequate security at diplomatic residences.

We, however, have to commend the police for having acted swiftly in arresting one of the four men who attacked Mwambulukutu, his wife and guests.

Foreign diplomats are important guests and ought to be given protection in terms of agreed protocols.

We have said this before but we are saying it again: The government must make all efforts to stop crime and make South Africa a safe and better place for all.

X