South Africans fighting in Hamas-Israel war will be prosecuted, SA says
Minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the law does not allow South Africans to fight under the flags of other countries
South Africans participating in the Middle East war are a threat to the interests of the republic and will be prosecuted.
This is according to minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, who said the law did not allow South Africans to fight under the flags of other countries.
SA’s Prohibition of Mercenary Activities and Regulation of Certain Activities in Country of Armed Conflict Act prohibits mercenary activity and regulates the enlistment of citizens or permanent residents in other armed forces.
Ntshavheni was responding in her capacity as the state security minister to a parliamentary question on Wednesday, about what action the government was taking against South Africans fighting alongside the Israeli Defence Force against Hamas.
The participation of South Africans who are either former soldiers or trained professionals or security companies are bound to create a diplomatic nightmare, she said, especially as the country has denounced the action of the Israeli government.
Pretoria has declared the continued killing of Palestinian people to be genocide and has called on the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The war has claimed more than 10,000 lives so far.
The SA government supports calls for a two-state agreement between the warring nations.
Ntshavheni said the State Security Agency (SSA) was aware of South Africans who were participating in the war without sanction. She said the SSA was monitoring the war and was ready to provide to both the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the department of defence the identities of South Africans active in the war.
“The specific problem of South Africans joining the ranks of the Israeli Defence Force is receiving attention. However, this problem goes beyond Israel — it encompasses other conflicts where state and nonstate players are involved in training and armed conflict,” she said. “Where sufficient evidence is available that breaches of the relevant law have occurred, affected people have to be prosecuted.”
ANC MP Jerome Maake said failure to quickly deal with this would mean the country was “producing” and “exporting dogs of war, or mercenaries” who were killing women and children and committing genocide in Gaza.
Ntshavheni emphasised it was not only in Gaza but that the problem also existed in other wars. She said there ought to be clear processes in place that would include regulating private security and intelligence organisations, access to arms and how citizens join defence forces of other countries.
“The NPA will have to move with speed to prosecute those who are participating, not only in the Israeli war but in any other war and also for the defence department to attend to those who participate who are former soldiers in terms of their benefits.”
Such participation, she said, whether on the side of the Israeli government, Hamas or in any other war, was a threat to the country’s interests.