PRESS STATEMENT: South African Government Ministers, media personalities and activists commit to 24 hour fast in solidarity with Palestinians

11 May 2017

South African government ministers are lending their support to the over 1500 #PalestinianPoliticalPrisoners currently on hunger strike (since 17 April). The #PalestinianPoliticalPrisoners, who have gone without any food for almost a month now, are demanding an end to Israel’s detention without trial among other issues.

Some of the government officials who will be participating in the nationwide 24 hour fast in solidarity with #PalestinianPoliticalPrisoners include Dr Aaron Motsoaledi (Minister of Health), Ayanda Dlodlo (Minister of Communications), Naledi Pandor (Minister of Science & Technology), Rob Davies (Minister of Trade & Industry), Ebrahim Patel (Minister for Economic Development), Nomaindia Mfeketo (Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation), Buti Manamela (Deputy Minister in the Presidency), Enver Surty (Deputy Minister of Basic Education), Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams (Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services), Fatima Chohan (Deputy Minister of Home Affairs), John Jeffery (Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development) and Bongani Mkgoni (Deputy Minister of Police).

Well known personalities, liberation icons, activists and political leaders who have also pledged to participate include: Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (Former African Union Chairperson), Jessie Duarte (ANC Deputy Secretary-General), Faiez Jacobs (ANC Provincial Secretary), Sidumo Dlamini (President of the Congress of South African Trade Unions), Mluleki Dlelanga (YCL National Secretary), Khulekani Skosana (Secretary-General of the Congress of South African Students), Sifiso Mtsweni (NYDA Chairperson), Reverend Edwin Arrison (Chairperson of the National Coalition 4 Palestine), Frans Baleni (Deputy Chair of the Development Bank of Southern Africa and former NUM GS), Allan Kolski Horwitz (SA Jews for Palestine), Issu Chiba (86 year old former Robben Island anti-apartheid political prisoner), Kehla Shubane (former Robben Island anti-apartheid political prisoner), Charles Setsubi (SACP CC member and former MK soldier deployed in Zambia and Tanzania), Bongani Mbindwane (former anti-apartheid detainee and activist), Parks Tau (President of the United Cities and Local Government, Chairperson of SA Local Government Association and former Mayor of Johannesburg) and Mpho Masemola (Chairperson of the Ex Political Prisoners Association of South Africa).

TV presenters Eben Jansen, Hajra Omarjee, Nina Hastie, Kuli Roberts, Shaka Sisulu and media personalities Kay Sexwale, Janet Smith, Jimi Matthews and Yusuf Abramjee have also lent their support to the 24 hour fast. Click here for a regularly updated list of participants.

The 24 hour solidarity hunger strike fast will start at 6pm on Sunday 14 May and end at 6pm on Monday 15 May. Those who would like to join the solidarity hunger strike are invited to submit their names and titles to: Click here for an IOL article on the issue.


There are currently over 6500 #PalestinianPoliticalPrisoners detained by Israel. Over the past 50 years, more than 800 000 Palestinians have been imprisoned or detained by Israel. Virtually every single Palestinian family has been affected by Israeli imprisonment of a loved one. Presently there are more than 500 Palestinians held under Israel’s “administrative detention” (equivalent of Apartheid SA’s “detention without trial”). 25 Palestinian journalists and 13 Palestinian parliamentarians are also currently being incarcerated in Israeli prisons. Israel is also holding 300 Palestinian children (some as young as 13 years old). In the last one year alone Israel has arrested more than 400 Palestinians for social media posts. Click here for infographics.

Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman has responded to the current hunger strike saying: “I take the approach of Margaret Thatcher” in reference to the former British prime minister who notoriously allowed Irish hunger strikers to die in prison. In addition, Israeli citizens have responded by holding a barbecue braai outside one of the Israeli prison to taunt #PalestinianPoliticalPrisoners who are on hunger strike. The Israelis said that the prisoners “will enjoy breathing in the smoke and suffer from the smell of the meat, and [we will] show them that we will not give in to their whims.”

Click here for a list of South African organizations that have lent their support to the #PalestinianPoliticalPrisoners.