Vicky Somniso-Abraham
1 minute read
24 Apr 2015
7:00 am

Defiant Blade still wants to visit Palestine, visa or not

Vicky Somniso-Abraham

Iron-willed Minister of Higher Education Dr Blade Nzimande, despite being denied a visa by the Israeli government because "he has been vocal on Israel occupying Palestine", is adamant he is going to Palestine nonetheless.

Blade Nzimande
Picture: Michel Bega

However, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) is said to have warned him not to travel due to elements of fear around his security.

It is said the minister believed he could not be intimidated by the Israeli government hence he wanted to rebel against them, a source close to the situation said yesterday.

Saturday Citizen has been reliably informed the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) sent Nzimande a text message yesterday at around 10am informing him they regret what had happened and they intended to communicate with the Israeli government to reconsider its decision.

Approached for comment, the SAJBD’s Wendy Kahn referred enquiries to Israel’s Deputy Ambassador Michael Freeman, however said they did not intend to release an official comment.

Dirco spokesperson Nelson Kgwete declined to comment regarding a call for Nzimande not to travel for fear of victimisation.

Nzimande’s spokesperson, Khaye Nkwanyana, said the minister was outraged by the incident. “Therefore he has instructed universities and colleges that have relations with Israeli institutions to cut ties with them.”

Nkwanyana said after two weeks’ attempts to obtain a visa for Nzimande they panicked. Upon contacting Israel’s foreign ministry, they were informed about the decision not to grant him “a visa because he has been vocal on Israel occupying Palestine and vocal on the bombing of Palestine”.

Nkwanyana said Nzimande had been labelled “an enemy of Israel”.

Nzimande was invited by the Palestine Minister of Higher Education Dr Khawka Shaksheer to discuss an implementation plan for the signed agreement on higher education and training between South Africa and Palestine from today.