Sasco suspends three members for going on Israel trip

Johannesburg - Three members of the SA Students Congress (Sasco) have been suspended for taking part in a trip to Israel, despite being warned not to.

Sasco secretary general Luzuko Buku said the trio had been advised not to go on the trip, but ignored the warning.

They would now have to explain themselves during their respective disciplinary hearings.

The trip was apparently funded by South African philanthropists.

The trio embarked on the trip as part of a delegation of 16 young leaders. They say they only accepted the offer to go on the trip if there were no conditions attached.

"We view an act by some of our members to visit Israel as crossing the picket line," said Buko. 

"We advised them against going on the trip, but they resisted."

The 16 young leaders traveled to Israel on July 4 and returned to South Africa on Saturday.

Among them were three Sasco members: A former member of the University of Johannesburg's Student Representative Council and two members of the University of the Witwatersrand's SRC and Sasco branch.

Although some of the leaders were members of Sasco, the Young Communist League of SA (YCLSA) and the African National Congress's Youth League (ANCYL), the group announced in a statement on Thursday that they had gone on the trip in their personal capacity.

"All young people who traveled to Israel and Palestine did not represent any political party on the trip. We all travelled in our personal capacity in order to learn more about the reality of the situation and understand the positions of both countries," the group said.

Those affiliated with the ANC, Sasco and YCLSA said they had been threatened by Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions South Africa (BDS SA) not to go on the trip.

Sasco stood by BDS SA, saying the students had gone on a "propaganda trip".

"The intention of this trip is to give an unbalanced perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"It is against this background that the [national executive committee] has decided to temporarily suspend all our members who participated in this propaganda trip to Israel pending a disciplinary hearing."

He said the members' actions had tainted Sasco's name and put it into disrepute.

Sasco was still verifying the membership of two others who went on the trip who were also believed to be part of the organisation.

According to the joint statement by the young leaders, they said there had been allegations that they received gifts and money, but this was incorrect.

"This trip was a success and all delegates have different opinions on this conflict as a result of our experiences with both people of Palestine and Israel and thus we are more determined that through our findings there might actually be light for a solution towards the ongoing war," they said.

They requested that they be given the space to reveal their findings from the trip, rather than being attacked.

The YCLSA and ANCYL could not immediately be reached for comment.

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