Bernadette Wicks & Tshidi Madia12 January 2024 | 8:25

Lamola on US claims against SA genocide case: 'We have shown the intent of Israel'

After the United States government labelled South Africa’s genocide case against Israel as ‘unfounded’, the Minister of Justice insisted the country’s arguments all aligned with the Genocide Convention’s definition.

Lamola on US claims against SA genocide case: 'We have shown the intent of Israel'

Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola has slapped back at a statement from the United States (US) government that labelled South Africa’s genocide case against Israel “unfounded”, among other things.

The first leg of the case got underway before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague on Thursday, where South Africa’s legal team addressed the court on its request for provisional measures that would effectively halt Israel’s ongoing military operations in the Gaza strip.

This is pending the finalisation of the matter, in which South Africa ultimately wants Israel’s conduct to be found to be in breach of the Genocide Convention.


In the statement issued late Thursday, the US said that “genocide is one of the most heinous acts any entity or individual can commit, and such allegations should only be made with the greatest of care”.

But Lamola, who is leading South Africa’s delegation at court, said this was exactly what they had done.

“We have made the case yesterday [Thursday], you have seen, with the greatest care. Without sensationalism, providing horrific videos and so forth, we have shown the intent of the State of Israel through its soldiers - ground and also generals - the authorities in Israel, from the prime minister, the defence minister, their statements, their actions that are targeted at civilian infrastructure.”

He insisted this all aligned with the definition of genocide as set out in the convention.

“It cannot be clearer than that. If this does not suit the definition of genocide in terms of the convention, I can tell you nothing ever will.”


Meanwhile, in Mpumalanga, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa was “duty-bound” to approach the ICJ over the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

The president was speaking in Mbombela while leading the African National Congress (ANC)'s build-up activities ahead of its birthday rally in the province on Saturday.

He told the African National Congress Women's League the country put together a formidable legal team.

Ramaphosa said South Africa had to take this step as a member state of the ICJ and a signatory to the Convention Against Genocide.

“We also felt duty-bound because we were taught by Nelson Mandela that our freedom will never be complete until the freedom of the Palestinians is obtained.”

Ramaphosa also praised Lamola, a Mpumalanga native, and the country's legal representatives.

“I’ve never felt as proud as I felt today when our legal team was arguing our case in The Hague. I never felt as proud seeing Ronald Lamola, son of this province, standing there introducing our case.”