This is SA’s formidable team of lawyers to take on Israel at ICJ for genocide in Gaza
South Africa filed an urgent case against Israel at the ICJ accusing the state of crimes of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.
South Africa initiated proceedings against Israel at the International Court of Justice for alleged crimes against humanity committed in Palestine. Photo: Said Khatib / AFP
South Africa will have a formidable team of lawyers when it argues its Gaza genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague next week.
In a significant development South Africa filed an urgent case against Israel at the ICJ accusing the state of crimes of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.
The move which has been lauded by some, comes after nearly three months of relentless Israeli bombardment.
South Africa’s legal team for its case to the ICJ includes: John Dugard, Max du Plessis, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Adila Hassim, Sarah Pudifin-Jones, Lerato Zikalala and Tshidiso Ramogale among others
Tembeka Ngcukaitobi is an advocate of the High Court. He holds the degrees of BProc, LLB (Unitra), LLM (Rhodes) and LLM (London School of Economics).
He was the EFF lawyer who stole the show during the state capture report court battle.
Ngcukaitob formed part of the red berets legal team arguing for the state capture report to be released in the North Gauteng High Court.
Ngcukaitobi gained prominence for his involvement in cases involving former President Jacob Zuma, who faced widespread corruption allegations.
He is also the author of the book “The Land is Ours: South Africa’s first black lawyers and the birth of constitutionalism.”
With two decades of legal practice, Adila Hassim has also assumed the role of an acting judge.
As the co-founder and director of litigation at Section27, Hassim has appeared in various divisions of the High Courts and the Constitutional Court.
Hassim has been involved in a range of litigation regarding socio-economic rights, and was lead Counsel in the Life Esidimeni arbitration.
She is also a co-founder of Corruption Watch, an anti-corruption organisation dedicated to monitoring and exposing corrupt practices involving public and charitable resources in South Africa, where she also serves on the board; and is a trustee of the Constitution Hill Trust.
She has published in various legal and health journals and co-edited Health & Democracy: A Guide to Human Rights and Health Law and Policy in Post-apartheid South Africa, with Mark Heywood and Jonathan Berger (2007).
Max du Plessis
Professor Max du Plessis is a Honorary Research Fellows at the School of Law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Du Plessis is a practising Advocate of the High Court, South Africa. He has appeared in a number of leading constitutional and international law cases in the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Appeal, and High Courts of South Africa.
He has also appeared in or consulted in cases before courts or tribunals outside of South Africa, including the International Criminal Court, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the Human Rights Committee.
His primary research interests are International Criminal Law, Legal Philosophy, International Human Rights Law, Constitutional Law and Administrative Law, all on which he has published extensively.
Du Plessis is also a senior research associate on the International Crime in Africa Programme at the Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria.
Professor John Dugard has been a member of the Board of Trustees of Law for Palestine since 2020. He specialized in international law and human rights law. During the apartheid era in South Africa, he directed the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, a unit committed to litigation and advocacy in defence of human rights.
After the fall of apartheid, he participated in the drafting of the Bill of Rights for the new South African Constitution.
In 2013 he was awarded the Order of the Baobab, South Africa’s highest award for community service and has received several honorary doctorates from South Africa universities for his work in the fields of human rights and international law.
He is a senior counsel of the High Court of South Africa.
Sarah Pudifin-Jones holds a BA(Hons) LLB from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Before joining the Bar, Pudifin-Jones clerked for Justice Albie Sachs at the Constitutional Court.
She has appeared in the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal, the Competition Appeal Court, High Courts around the country as well as various regulatory tribunals.
Pudifin-Jones has a particular focus on constitutional law, administrative law, regulatory matters, competition law, commercial and international law.
She is co-editor of the first book in South African law on Class Action litigation, and has written more broadly in academic journals and publications.
Zikalala holds an LLB degree from Rhodes University. She served articles with Attorneys Bowmans before joining the Constitutional Court as a researcher to Justice Johan Froneman.
Zikalala was called to the Bar in 2016 where she conducts a practice in public and private law, specializing in constitutional and administrative law.
Zikalala sits on the board of Lawyers against Abuse, an organisation that fills the gap between the law and the way it is experienced by victims of gender-based violence.
Tshidiso Ramogale is a practising advocate at the Johannesburg Bar and a member of the Pan African Bar Association of South Africa.
Ramogale completed his pupillage under the mentorship of senior counsel Ngcukaitobi. He was also law clerk to Justice Sisi Khampepe in 2016/17.
He headed to Harvard University to complete his Masters in law in 2017.
While at Harvard, he was the managing executive editor of the Harvard Human Rights Journal and was appointed by the dean to serve on the task force on academic community and student engagement.
South Africa’s team also includes two external advocates, Vaughan Lowe and Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh who will support the team.
Professor Vaughan Lowe is a practising Barrister at Essex Court Chambers, mainly in the field of international law, with cases in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Lowe’s major cases before the ICJ include the Antarctic whaling case. He also represented Palestine for the Palestinian wall matter and in the Bolivia v Chile case relating to access to the Pacific Ocean.
Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh
Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh is described in the legal directories as a “fiercely intelligent barrister” and “compelling” and “persuasive” advocate, who is “tactically brilliant”, “quick to spot winning points in a case”, and “utterly committed.”
She has an extensive practice across human rights, public international law, criminal law and public law.
Ní Ghrálaigh is a senior advocate at the bars of Ireland, England and Wales. She is also on the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) list of counsel.
She advises and acts for individuals, states, NGOs and other national and international bodies, appearing in domestic courts at all levels, and before international courts and tribunals.
South Africa will win
Last week, an International law expert Francis Boyle said he believed South Africa will win an order against Israel in its case before the ICJ for genocide against Palestinians in Gaza
“Based on my careful review of all the documents so far submitted by the Republic of South Africa, I believe South Africa will win an order against Israel to cease and desist from committing all acts of genocide against the Palestinians.
“Then we will have an official determination by the International Court of Justice itself, the highest legal authority in the United Nations system, that genocide is going on and under Article 1 of the Genocide Convention. All contracting parties of the 153 states will then be obliged to “prevent” the genocide by Israel against the Palestinians,” Boyle said.
Dikgang Moseneke on ICJ bench
Meanwhile, as South Africa prepares to argue its genocide case against Israel at the ICJ, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke is set to join the bench of judges to preside over the matter.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) on Friday announced that it approached Moseneke to join the bench of 15 permanent judges in an ad hoc capacity.
South Africa currently does not have permanent representation on the bench of the ICJ.
The ICJ sometimes known as the World Court, is the United Nations’ (UN) venue for resolving disputes between states.
It is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) labelled the case a publicity stunt lacking in credibility and understanding.
South Africa has received support for its decision to take Israel to the ICJ for ‘genocidal acts’ in Gaza, including from Türkiye, Malaysia and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
South Africa’s decision to take Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for ‘genocidal acts’ in Gaza has reportedly ruffled the security establishment and the state attorney’s office in Israel, according to Haaretz.
A senior legal expert dealing with the matter has in recent days warned the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) top brass, including Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi, that there is “real danger that the court will issue an injunction calling on Israel to halt its fire, noting that Israel is bound by the courts”.
The death toll in Gaza has soared to over 22,800 people, about 70% of them women and children, while 58,416 have been injured according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.