There are renewed calls by the Palestinian solidarity movement for the South Africa’s ambassador for Israel to be recalled. Sisi Ngombane is in hot water after comments made at a press conference on Friday, to welcome back SA activist Leigh Ann Naidoo from the Women’s Boat to Gaza. Naidoo returned home on Friday following her illegal capture and detention by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Ngombane strayed from the South African government’s official position and defended Israeli aggression, leaving activists in shock.
In a statement on Sunday, the South African chapter of the Women’s Boat to Gaza initiative described the ambassador’s comments as “utterly irresponsible and unprofessional.”
“As South Africans, our solidarity for victims of injustice, racism and illegal wars, deserves unconditional support from government and functionaries who serve in various countries as diplomats,” said Zeenat Adam from the WBGSA.
“We find the ambassador’s blatant spin doctoring in support of the propagandist narrative of Israel deplorable. His shameless assertion that Palestinians were to blame for Israel’s attacks on Gaza in 2014 is not only unfounded, but at odds with the official position of the South African government.”
Adam said Ambassador Ngombane’s embarrassing antics and clear bias towards Israel displayed disrespect for the gathering of Palestinian solidarity movements who were at O R Tambo International airport to honour Naidoo who undertook a perilous journey to break the illegal and inhumane blockade by Israel of Gaza.
“While Palestinians continue to be subjected to indiscriminate bombings, prevented from freedom of movement, imprisoned in the world’s largest open air prison and facing gross human rights violations, as South Africans we were appalled that Ambassador Ngombane adamantly defended the criminal and terrorist acts of the Apartheid State of Israel,” said Adam.
Whilst the WBGSA and the general South African public was made to believe that the Ambassador had accompanied Leigh-Ann from Tel Aviv to Johannesburg to ensure her safe return to SA, it has now emerged upon further investigation that his return to SA on Flight LY053 was in fact coincidental and a pre-planned personal visit to South Africa. Upon hearing of Leigh-Ann’s return and the planned press conference, DIRCO chose to take advantage of the event for publicity purposes, said Adam.
“It has further emerged through a debrief with Leigh-Ann that she had received no consular services from the South African mission in Tel Aviv, whilst most other nationals on the boat acquired consular access to their respective embassies. Leigh-Ann’s release from Israeli custody is attributed to the negotiations by a team of lawyers from Gaby Lasky firm, not by the South African ambassador, who up until the day of her negotiated release claimed not to have information on her detention.”
“Ambassador Sisa Ngombane’s failure to intervene and ensure the safety and fundamental human rights of Leigh-Ann Naidoo, who was captured and kidnapped illegally in international waters is a serious dereliction of his duty.”
The pro-Palestinian organisation believes Ngombane has brought disrepute to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and undermined official policy positions on Palestine, deliberately deceiving the media and public.
“We therefore call on the President to immediately suspend Ambassador Sisa Ngombane from his duties. Unless this step is taken as a matter of urgency, we believe that South Africa’s policy positions on Palestine will unfairly remain biased towards Israel.”
DIRCO could not be reached for comment. VOC