All eyes on SA as it readies for World Court genocide case against Israel

DIRCO spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the hearing for the matter is set to take place on January 11-12. Picture: Official account of the International Court of Justice/X

DIRCO spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the hearing for the matter is set to take place on January 11-12. Picture: Official account of the International Court of Justice/X

Published Jan 8, 2024


Cape Town - While still dealing with the harrowing remnants of nearly 50 years of apartheid and having coined the term, the eyes of the world have fallen on South Africa as it hauls Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) this week.

SA has assembled a formidable team of lawyers to take on the mammoth lawsuit at the ICJ under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention) namely John Dugard SC, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC, Adila Hassim SC, Max du Plessis SC, together with Tshidiso Ramogale, Sarah Pudifin-Jones, Lerato Zikalala, Vaughan Lowe KC and Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh KC.

The ICJ, also known as the “World Court” confirmed that South Africa’s case would be heard through public hearings held on Thursday and Friday. Malaysia, Türkiye, Jordan and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) have expressly shown their support for South Africa’s application.

On Friday, Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) announced Justice Dikgang Moseneke, a former Robben Island political prisoner, would be serving as an ad hoc judge in determining South Africa’s case of genocide against Israel in relation to Gaza and the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza at the ICJ.

Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela said: “Under Article 31, paragraphs 2 and 3, of the Statute of the ICJ, a State party (SA) to a case before the ICJ which does not have a judge of its nationality on the Bench may choose a person to sit as judge ad hoc in that specific case.

“Accordingly, South Africa has approached Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who has agreed to join the other ICJ judges on the Bench and hear our case against Israel.”

Monyela said Professor Dire Tladi will start his tenure as an ICJ judge on February 6. Tladi was elected through secret ballot and received the absolute majority of votes by the 193-members of the UN General Assembly and Security Council.

On November 9, 2023, the General Assembly elected five judges to join the ICJ. One-third of the court is elected every three years and judges are eligible for re-election.

On December 29, Dirco announced that the country had approached the ICJ under the Genocide Convention over Israel’s attacks on Gaza, which have killed at least 22 185 Palestinians, with this figure representing 1% of Gaza’s population.

Public hearings will be held at the Peace Palace, in the Hague, Netherlands, where the seat of the court is situated, on Thursday, January 11 from 10am to 12pm and will see South Africa presenting its oral argument, followed by Israel on Friday, January 12, from 10am-12pm.

Last week, the ICJ said the hearings would be devoted to the request for provisional measures to be indicated in order to “protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people under the Genocide Convention” and “to ensure Israel’s compliance with its obligations under the Genocide Convention not to engage in genocide, and to prevent and to punish genocide”.

“The utmost urgency of the situation is self-evident: Palestinians have suffered and are suffering irreparable harm from genocidal acts by Israel in violation of Article II of the Genocide Convention, and from Israel’s other violations of the Convention, including its failure to prevent or punish direct and public incitement to genocide,” the application read.

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Cape Argus