South Africa

South Africa’s ICJ Israel case cost millions

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said South Africa spent millions on the proceedings instituted by the government against Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

This was revealed in a Parliamentary question posed to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services by FF+ MP Dr Corne Mulder.

South Africa’s government brought a case against Israel on 29 December 2023, and the two-day hearings occurred earlier this year. 

The ICJ is the highest United Nations legal body that can adjudicate issues between member states. It is separate from the International Criminal Court, which tries individuals in criminal cases.

South Africa accused Israel of committing the crime of genocide in Gaza in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention, which both countries are party to.

In January, the ICJ ordered that Israel must take action to protect human life in Gaza, siding with South Africa after it accused Israel of committing genocide in the territory. It stopped short of demanding a ceasefire.

Lamola said three government departments – the Presidency, International Relations and Cooperation and Justice and Constitutional Development – had legal representation for the ICJ case argued on 11 and 12 January 2024.

“I am only able to respond with regard to the counsel and costs falling under the department I am responsible for,” he said.

Ronald Lamola
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development had one senior and two junior counsels who handled the matter pro bono.

He said there were three legal practitioners who were on brief by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

The minister and three officials attended the proceedings at the ICJ on 11 and 12 January 2024.

He revealed that the costs in respect of travel were as follows –

  • Legal team – R277,083.
  • Minister – R443,442.
  • State officials – R1,025,359.

The total costs for accommodation were as follows –

  • Legal team – R73,420.
  • Minister – R43,999.
  • State officials – R58,115.

He specified that the costs for the state officials include the VIP Protector, who is employed by SAPS and, therefore, also a state official.

There was also a subsistence allowance for the minister and officials of R34,080.42. The travel, accommodation, and subsistence allowance total R1.96 million.

In a separate Parliamentary response to DA MP Solly Malatsi, Lamola said these funds were sourced from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Lamola said South Africa is extremely proud that it took this matter to the ICJ. 

“As government, South Africa could not sit idly and watch the killing of innocent people in Gaza,” he said. 

“South Africa stepped up at the time when thousands of lives, mainly vulnerable women and children, were killed, and our efforts drew the world’s attention that a genocide is happening in Gaza.” 

“Several other countries joined in the condemnation of the genocide and pledged support and solidarity with South Africa for its stance against genocide.” 

Below is a table of the costs mentioned by Lamola in his response.

Travel costs
Legal TeamR277,083
State officialsR1,025,359
Accommodation costs
Legal TeamR73,420
State officialsR58,115
Allowance for minister and officialsR34,080


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