Thursday, January 27th | 26 Shevat 5782

December 10, 2021 2:22 pm

South Africa Court Puts Off Challenge to Government’s Withdrawal of Support for Country’s Miss Universe Contestant

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Miss Universe South Africa 2021 Lalela Mswane. Photo: Miss Universe.

A judge in South Africa has for now dismissed the application of a non-profit organization seeking to bring the country’s government to court for withdrawing its support for Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane, who is set to compete in the Miss Universe pageant in Israel.

Citizens for Integrity (CFI) accused the South African government of “bullying” Mswane to pull out of the Dec. 12 beauty pageant, which she refused to do. The group also claimed the government made an “unconstitutional and irrational” decision to no longer support Mswane’s participant in the Miss Universe competition, set to take place in Eilat, in a show of solidarity with the boycott movement against Israel.

CFI submitted an urgent application to the Gauteng Division of the High Court to have the government’s decision “declared unconstitutional.” However on Wednesday, Judge Cornelius Van der Westhuizen “struck CFI’s application from the urgent roll, holding that there was no urgency in the matter,” CFI said. The case can now only be heard “in a few months’ time,” with the non-profit group saying it will continue to pursue the matter.

“This issue before the court affects the rights of every person who does not have the ability of resources to fight against the bullying tactics of the government,” CFI added. “We remain steadfast in the belief that only when the government is held accountable for its unacceptable conduct toward its own citizens and until the courts made such orders, can we say that we are making South Africa a better democratic society. This is what we seek to do by fighting for the rights of South Africans in this case.”

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The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture applauded the court’s ruling. “The honorable judge accepted that the stance of government on the non-support of Israel is purely based on government policy as the underlying matter for the issuing of the statement,” ministerial spokesperson Masechaba Ndlovu said.

She added that South Africa’s Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa “has said that our position is rooted in the responsibility to encourage a culture of moral stewardship amongst all who carry the South African name.”

The court decision came after the pro-boycott group Africa4Palestine submitted a Dec. 6 application to weigh in on the case brought by CFI, according to the South African Jewish Report. The anti-Israel group said it wants to provide the court with information about alleged Israeli crimes of apartheid and purported similarities with the historic apartheid regime in South Africa.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies on Thursday wished Mswane good luck in the Miss Universe pageant and applauded Miss South Africa for “standing her ground” despite “bullying tactics” to have her pull out of the competition.

“Prior to her departure, she was subjected to an unprecedented campaign of vilification and intimidation by aggressive anti-Israel groups demanding that she withdraw from the competition. Lalela, however, refused to be used as a political tool by anti-peace fringe lobbyists, looking to create division and strife in South African society,” SAJBD said. “Whatever the outcome of the competition, we have no doubt that as our South African representative she will carry our flag high at this prestigious international event and do our country proud.”

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