Suspension of SA official for pro-Israel remarks 'a clear attack'
| Updated Jun 13, 2018 at 12:05pm
The suspension of a South African official for saying Johannesburg was "a friend of Israel" is a serious threat to democracy, a campaign group has said.
South African Friends of Israel lashed out at the decision to suspend Mpho Phalatse, the city's health member of municipal council (MMC), by Mayor Herman Mashaba after a video of her speaking at one of its events at the weekend went viral.
The reaction, it said in a statement, was "hysterical", posed a "serious threat to democracy in our country", as well as being "a clear attack on our Christian and Jewish community, as well as other minority religious communities".
"It is a sad day when elected officials are not free to attend events of their choosing, and express their personal religious or political views," the statement added.
Ms Phalatse has since said she was speaking in her personal capacity, and not as a representative of Johannesburg.
However, Democratic Alliance politician Mr Mashaba's decision to remove her, made at a council meeting on Sunday, was greeted with chants of "Free Palestine" by African National Congress (ANC) members, while the Economic Freedom Fighters have called for her dismissal, according to The Sowetan.