No government apology (yet) for Lalela as court dismisses application on eve of pageant

Deputy mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, left, with Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane (PHOTO: Twitter)

An urgent application brought by non-profit organisation Citizens for Integrity challenging the government’s stance on Miss South Africa participating in Israel was struck off the roll in the Pretoria High Court yesterday.

This means that Lalela Mswane will compete in the pageant in Eliat, Israel on Sunday without the blessing of SA’s Department of Sport, Arts and Culture but she may still get an apology from the government later if CFI wins the next round of its court challenge.

CFI lawyer Elson Kgaka, of ES Kgaka Attorneys, reportedly said it was only the “urgency” of the court application that had been struck off the roll.

“But we are proceeding,” he said.

Commenting on the court proceedings to South African Jewish Report (SAJR) yesterday, CFI spokesperson and deputy chairperson of the ANC Women’s League in Johannesburg, went against the government’s anti-Israel stance, saying: “As a committed Christian, I felt it was important to look at her rights as a woman and her rights as Miss SA. The protesters can jump and scream, but we will stand up against this injustice. As Christians, we believe Israel is the apple of God’s eye, and we will continue to pray for peace between Israel and South Africa.”

Anti-Israel lobbyists staged a small protest outside court yesterday. SAJR reports that they accused CFI of being “a front company for the Zionist lobby” and in an online poster advertising the protest, they said: “Israel keep your dirty hands off our government”.

The court’s decision came after Africa4Palestine, a non-profit organisation based in Johannesburg, submitted court papers on December 6 to be a friend of the court.

And in a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Tisetso Magama, a spokesman for Africa4Palestine, which applied to be a friend of the court in the matter, said they welcomed the ruling which meant that government had defeated the “Israeli lobby’s lawfare attempts to ban the cultural boycott of Israel”.

Meanwhile after a fashion event in Jerusalem this week deputy mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan-Nahoum tweeted: “I thanked #MissUniverse South African contestant Lalela Mswane for speaking truth to power and not just being a beautiful but a very brave lady.”

Lalela is competing with 77 other contestants representing their nations in the Miss Universe pageant in Eliat, with the national costume show at 7pm (SAST) tomorrow and the preliminary competition at 9.30pm (SAST) which will both be streamed on the Miss Universe YouTube channel. The finale is at 7pm (EST) on Sunday which is 2am (SAST) on Monday.

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