Heroes’ welcome for SA lawyers returning from The Hague

Heroes’ welcome for SA lawyers returning from The Hague. Picture: File

Heroes’ welcome for SA lawyers returning from The Hague. Picture: File

Published Jan 15, 2024


South Africa’s legal team in the genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) arrived to a heroes’ welcome when they were met with loud cheers of “Free Palestine” from throngs of pro-Palestine supporters at OR Tambo International Airport yesterday.

On Thursday, the group of legal minds presented South Africa’s case against Israel.

The team comprised of Dr Adila Hassim SC, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC, Prof John Dugard SC, Prof Max Du Plessis SC, Ms Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh KC, and Prof Vaughan Lowe KC.

South Africa has accused Israel of violating the Genocide Convention and perpetrating mass killings, harm to Palestinians, and explicit genocidal intent by political leaders.

The team argued that Israel’s actions breached Article 2 of the Genocide Convention, citing systematic patterns of conduct indicative of genocide.

On Sunday, Advocate Doctor Mashabane, director-general of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, indicated that the team refused to discuss money before their main humanitarian effort at the ICJ.

“By the way, there are people now starting to ask how much is this case going to cost us. These South Africans. These patriots when we reached out to them, they told us it is not about how much you are going to pay us. It is not about money but about contributing to humanity. Not that they are not going to be paid but they said they will not discuss money, we want to do the work. So we must be grateful to them as well,” he said.

Speaking to members of the media, senior council advocate Ngcukaitobi said representing South Africa at the ICJ was a group effort that the team is honoured and privileged that they were able to contribute.

“The struggle continues. This is an episode in the long struggle. It has been 75 years of occupation and that struggle continues and does not end. This week marked an important episode and marked a turning to have the world look at the issue through a legal lens but the overall struggle itself will continue beyond this. We have been very humbled that we have been able to contribute in a very small part to an otherwise long and courageous struggle of the Palestinian people,” he said.

Professor Saths Cooper, in an opinion piece published on IOL, said he has been left impressed by the country’s legal team which argued its case before the ICJ, adding that South Africa has through this case regained some of its moral authority.

“The clearly evidenced manner in which respected lawyers presented the case to protect life and prevent further genocide, was compelling,” Cooper said.