Government ‘wins first round’ in SA-Israeli Miss Universe fallout

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More than a 100 ANC members protested in solidarity with people of Palestine at the Israeli embassy in Pretoria. Photo: Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius/File
More than a 100 ANC members protested in solidarity with people of Palestine at the Israeli embassy in Pretoria. Photo: Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius/File


Government’s decision to withdraw its support for Miss SA Lalela Mswane for her participation in Miss Universe in Israel still stands – for now.

This is after Pretoria High Court Judge Cornelius Jacobus Van Der Westhuizen dismissed the Citizens for Integrity application against government.

The organisation went to court following government’s decision not to support Mswane ahead of the December 12 Miss Universe pageant in Eilat in Israel.

READ: Government is hauled to court for its position on the Miss Universe pageant in Israel

The court’s decision came after Africa4Palestine, a non-profit organisation based in Johannesburg, submitted court papers on December 6 to be a friend of the court.

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Africa4Palestine spokesperson Tisetso Magama said the ruling meant that government had defeated the “Israeli lobby’s lawfare attempts to ban the cultural boycott of Israel”.

Magama said they welcomed the case being struck off the roll.

On Monday #Africa4Palestine, Magama said, submitted the application to be amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the matter.

READ: Dashiki | Miss Universe: A sad PR failure

But, Citizens for Integrity’s lawyer Elson Kgaka, of ES Kgaka Attorneys, said it was only the “urgency” of the court application that had been struck off the roll.

“But we are proceeding,” Kgaka said.

City Press understands that Africa4Palestine board member, Michia Molemoeng Moncho, argued that government’s decision did not infringe on anybody’s constitutional rights.

Nature of Africa4Palestine application

Moncho said the purpose of their application was to involve Africa4Palestine in the court proceedings to provide:

  • Information on the numerous reports from international human rights bodies drawing parallels to apartheid as perpetrated in South Africa and the Israeli occupation and subjugation of Palestinians;
  • The scholarly works of John Dugard, the renowned South African jurist and professor of international law, who equated the Israeli occupation of Palestine to that of the legal definition of apartheid as contained in the 1973 UN International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (ICSPCA). Dugard found that the conduct of Israel bears the hallmarks of the “heinous crime of apartheid as determined by the ICSPCA”.
  • The views of South Africans who are opposed to Israel. “This respectfully not only evidences the views of a section of the community but constitutes the policy laden position adopted by the South African state in its opposition to Israel, the boycott by our government of Israel; and the zeitgeist of the South African people.”

Moncho said:

It will be demonstrated that the position adopted by the citizenry and government is in the keeping with international boycotts which crippled the South African apartheid hegemony, the intent being that through similar, non-violent protests, the people of Palestine will be set free.

Stance of the international community

Moncho argued that it was also common cause that Israel continued to disregard international law and was in breach of various UN resolutions.

“The state of Israel has been condemned in more than 45 resolutions by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Since the UNHRC’s creation in 2006, it has resolved almost more resolutions condemning Israel alone than on issues for the rest of the world combined,” Moncho argued.

She said the boycotts of sporting events, beauty pageants and similar events by the world in response to apartheid South Africa had been successful. As a result, she said South Africa was banned from participating in the Miss World pageants from 1978 to 1990.

Others have also pulled out

In respect of the Miss Universe in Israel, she said Miss Greece, Miss Barbados, Miss Morocco, Miss Laos, Miss Malaysia and Miss Indonesia had all withdrawn from the pageant.

Moncho said:

Miss Greece specifically withdrew from this year’s Miss Universe pageant, citing the atrocities on the Palestinian people as the basis thereof. In 2002, Miss SA Vanessa Carreira as well as the Miss SA rights holder Sun International, withdrew from the Miss World pageant to be held in Nigeria, as a result of the alleged human rights, women’s rights and religious concerns. After other contestants similarly withdrew, the pageant was relocated to London.

She said government’s stance on Mswane was “certainly one which has been adopted previously in respect of the challenge against apartheid and against human rights abuses by South Africa and the international community at large”.

Reply to Citizens for Integrity

Moncho said it was ironic that Citizens for Integrity had itemised an “exhaustive list of alleged violations” by government, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola and Sports, Arts and Recreation Minister Nathi Mthethwa – of Mswane’s constitutional rights “in light of extensive, flagrant violations and abuses of the most basic rights of millions of Palestinians by Israel”.

READ: Palestinian civil rights organisations warn Miss SA against condoning apartheid Israel

“The entire application smacks of irony. It is further ironic when the Miss SA organisers, the media and Miss SA herself on her social media profiles portrays herself as being a champion of women’s rights and humanitarian work. Despite this, her stance with regards to the present Miss Universe issue and her willingness to disregard the atrocities being committed against the Palestinian people smacks of contradictions.

“In fact, it seems that Miss SA and the pageant’s rights holders seem to have no regard whatsoever for the plight of the Palestinian people, which includes the complete disregard of the rights of women and children,” Moncho argued.

History of SA-Israeli relations

Moncho said Israel established a legation in South Africa in 1952 and in 1974 this was upgraded to an embassy. In 1972, South Africa established a consulate general in Tel Aviv which was upgraded to an embassy in December 1975.

READ: Apartheid Israel is no different from South Africa’s historical oppression

“Israel continued to enjoy close relations with the apartheid government in South Africa. South Africa adopted an approach, which favours resolutions of the Israeli-Arab conflict through peaceful negotiations, on the basis of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

“Accordingly, full diplomatic relations with Palestine were established. Government downgraded its embassy in Tel Aviv to a liaison office in 2019. This is clearly in line with its stance to support the Palestinian people. Government has never recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“There is currently limited political and diplomatic interaction between South Africa and Israel, mainly due to Israel’s antagonistic attitude towards the Middle East peace process and disregard for international law regard the rights of the Palestinians and their territories,” Moncho argued in part.

Title of the document

CFI press release: Govt still not yet prepared to admit that it bullied Miss SA


Msindisi Fengu 


+27 11 713 9001
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park


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