SA has démarched four diplomats over comments

US ambassador Reuben Brigety was démarched after his allegations that South Africa sold weapons to Russia. Picture: Supplied

US ambassador Reuben Brigety was démarched after his allegations that South Africa sold weapons to Russia. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 18, 2023


Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor says her department has démarched four diplomats in the last five years over their conduct and behaviour by their countries.

Israeli ambassador Eliav Belotserkovsky was the latest diplomat to get a tongue-lashing from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) over the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Director-General in the department, Zane Dangor had called Belotserkovksy into his office in Pretoria in November when Israel continued with the bombing of Gaza.

Israel has since recalled its ambassador after South Africa’s stance on the war in the Middle East.

When the department met with Belotserkovsky last month, it raised concerns about the escalation of the conflict that has led to more than 18,000 people being killed in Gaza.

“This démarche dealt with South Africa’s concern about the grave breaches of international criminal law, including possible war crimes by Hamas and possible war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by the government of Israel in Gaza,” said Pandor, who was replying to a written parliamentary question from IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa.

Pandor also said they démarched US ambassador Reuben Brigety earlier this year for his comments on the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Brigety had alleged that South Africa had sold weapons to Russia after a Russian vessel docked in Simon’s Town in December last year.

But a commission of inquiry set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa found that no weapons were loaded onto the ship.

“Ambassador Brigety was démarched following a press conference that he had convened on Thursday, May 11, 2023, wherein he levelled allegations against South Africa, regarding the sale of ammunition/armaments by South Africa to Russia, via the US-sanctioned Russian naval (vessel),” said Pandor.

The minister of international relations also said a diplomat from Equatorial Guinea was démarched over the arrest of two South Africans in her country.

It emerged early this year that two South African engineers Peter Huxman and Frederic Potgieter were arrested in that country on drug charges.

But the families of the two men believe they are held on trumped up charges.

Pandor said they called in the diplomat of Equatorial Guinea, Librada Ela Asumu, in February to register their concern about the incarceration of Huxman and Potgieter.

She said in 2018 they démarched the Australian High Commissioner, Adam McArthy, over the comments made by the Minister of Home Affairs in his country, Peter Dutton, about the land reform programme in South Africa.

Pandor said they were demanding a retraction over comments made by Dutton.

Dutton had wanted his department in Australia to fast-track visas for white farmers in South Africa because they were being persecuted in South Africa.

But the government had slammed Dutton for his comments at the time.

Pandor said the department démarched the Australian High Commissioner over the remarks by Dutton.

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