logoThe Women’s Boat to Gaza, South Africa expresses its grave disappointment at the utterly irresponsible and unprofessional conduct of the South African Ambassador to Israel, Mr Sisa Ngombane during a press conference held at OR Tambo International Airport upon the return of Leigh-Ann Naidoo to South Africa following her illegal capture and detention by the Israeli Defence Force.

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.

The WBGSA finds 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.

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 the courageous Leigh Ann 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.

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.

It has further emerged through 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.

WBGSA are of the opinion that he 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.

Issued by WBG

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Zeenat Adam