Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

The South African Friends of Israel organisation has called for an "immediate" reinstatement of the city of Joburg’s MMC for health‚ Mpho Phalatse.

City of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba announced on Tuesday during a council meeting that he was suspending Phalatse with immediate effect over her recent comments on Israel. The Sowetan reported that Phalatse declared at an event held at the weekend that she and the city of Johannesburg were friends of Israel.

"The South African Friends of Israel is appalled and devastated at the chain of events which has lead to the suspension of Dr Mpho Phalatse‚ who was a guest speaker at the South African Friends of Israel conference this last weekend‚" said the organisation in a statement.

"She has become the target of hysterical condemnation for having expressed support for Israel‚ when bringing greetings on behalf of the city of Johannesburg. This is despite her subsequent clarification that she did so in her personal capacity.

"It is a sad day when elected officials are not free to attend events of their choosing‚ and express their personal religious or political views. This is indicative of the environment in which Israel is being demonised to a degree that bears no relationship to reality.

"Anti-Israel bigotry does not merely threaten the rights of the hundreds of thousands‚ if not millions‚ of South Africans who are passionate supporters of Israel. It also poses a serious threat to democracy in our country. Dr Phalatse has become the latest target of this totalitarian strategy."

The organisation called on all South Africans to condemn Mashaba’s decision‚ and appeal to the city of Johannesburg to reinstate Phalatse with immediate effect. "She is not deserving of this treatment‚ as she is huge asset to the governance of this city."