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2 Feb, 2024 18:56

Foreign spies trying to punish South Africa for taking on Israel – minister

Pretoria’s security minister has warned of foreign meddling to punish the country over its genocide allegations
Foreign spies trying to punish South Africa for taking on Israel – minister

South Africa’s government has claimed that it’s facing destabilization campaigns by foreign intelligence agencies as retaliation for daring to launch a genocide case against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The country’s security minister, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said her agency has been put on high alert to deal with foreign meddling as the country prepares to hold national elections later this year. “There are international misinformation campaigns which are aimed at destabilizing the country,” she told reporters on Thursday in Pretoria. “As the security cluster, we are very focused on that work. We are monitoring, and we are strengthening our capacity.”

Ntshavheni confirmed concerns raised earlier this week by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who said foreign governments were using their intelligence agencies to punish Pretoria for accusing Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians in its war with Hamas. Neither the security minister nor Ramaphosa identified the foreign adversaries involved in those alleged meddling efforts.

South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor told reporters on Wednesday that she had spoken with the country’s head of police about whether she was being adequately protected amid her criticism of Israel. She claimed at the same briefing that West Jerusalem was disregarding last week’s ICJ order to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza while fighting Hamas.

“I believe the rulings of the court have been ignored,” Pandor said. “Hundreds of people have been killed in the last three of four days, and clearly, Israel believes it has license to do as it wishes.”

More than 27,000 Gazans – primarily civilians – have been killed since the war began in October, according to local health authorities, and the UN has reported that 570,000 people in the besieged enclave are starving. The conflict started when Hamas fighters launched surprise attacks against Israeli villages, killing more than 1,100 people and taking hundreds of hostages back to Gaza.

The ruling African National Congress faces an election later this year in which polls suggest that it could fail to win a legislative majority for the first time since apartheid rule ended in 1994. Ramaphosa’s claim of foreign interference may set the stage for a disputed outcome.

“We continue to support the Independent Electoral Commission to make sure that we do not have a threat of cyber interferences from foreign agencies,” Ntshavheni said. “We cannot allow for foreign agencies to destabilize our elections.”