EFF loses appeal bid in Trevor Manuel defamation case

In his ruling Judge Matojane criticised EFF for refusing to apologise to Manuel or retract its statement

EFF loses appeal bid in Trevor Manuel defamation case

18 June 2019

The South Gauteng High Court has dismissed an EFF application for leave to appeal a defamation ruling in a case brought against them by Trevor Manuel.

In late May Judge Elias Matojane had ordered the EFF to apologise to Manuel after the former finance minister sued the party for alleging in a statement that he was a business associate of and related to new SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter.

Matojane also awarded Manuel R500 000 in general damages. The EFF, in a statement in March, had described Manuel’s involvement in Kieswetter’s selection process as "nepotistic" and "corrupt".

Manuel was the head of a selection panel, appointed by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, tasked with interviewing candidates to head up the tax agency. The panel made recommendations for the top job, but did not make the final decision.

'Lack the prospect of success'

On Tuesday Matojane ruled that the EFF's grounds for appeal lacked the prospect of success. Motojane also ruled that the awarding of R500 000 in general damages was "reasonable under the circumstances".

"The application for leave to appeal is dismissed with costs, including the costs of two counsel," he wrote. None of the parties involved in the case were present in court when the judge delivered his brief order.

In his ruling Matojane criticised the EFF for refusing to apologise to Manuel or retract its statement published on March 27 on social media platforms.

"Instead of retracting the defamatory statement and apologising, Mr Malema again took to Twitter to defend and reiterate the defamatory statement."

Manuel, the chairperson of Old Mutual, had argued that being branded corrupt damaged his reputation given his background and his current corporate image.

He has indicated that he intends to donate the R500 000 to a charity that helps victims of abuse, in a process that would be conducted in a transparent manner, as Fin 24 reported. He mentioned that he may give the money to victims of VBS Mutual Bank collapse. The EFF has not yet publicly responded to the court ruling.