Litigation: Miss SA row heading to High Court

The controversy surrounding Miss SA Lalela Mswane participating in the Miss Universe pageant in Israel may have cooled slightly, but court action against the government looks set to rekindle the fires, and pit members of the ruling party against each other. As previously reported in Legalbrief Today, the Department of Sports, Arts & Culture withdrew its support for Mswane on 14 November, citing the ongoing Palestine/Israel conflict. Non-profit organisation Citizens for Integrity last week announced it was taking the department to court. Former SIU head and director for Citizens for Integrity, Willie Hofmeyr, instructed Johannesburg ANC Women's League deputy chair, Sibongile Cele, to file the founding affidavit in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria). The Citizen says that in court papers, Cele accused the department of inconsistency in its boycott of Israel and ostracising Mswane. The organisation wants the court to declare the department’s declaration and conduct invalid and inconsistent with the Constitution.

Citizens for Integrity argues that the Miss SA organisation is private and receives no state funding. ‘The government has not only failed but has deliberately transgressed its obligation to respect and protect human rights guaranteed to all in the Bill of Rights. It has just as flagrantly denied Miss SA and the South African public the right to fair administrative decision-making,’ it said, according to a second report in The Citizen. Meanwhile, Africa4Palestine has submitted an application with the court to join the case as a friend of the court.

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