Letter from Mabuza Attorneys, acting on behalf of Carl Niehaus, to Minister Fikile Mbalula, 22 July 2021:
Minister Fikile Mbalula, MP Department of Transport
Dear Hon Minister,
Mr Carl Niehaus / Minister Fikile Mbalula 1. We act of behalf of Mr Carl Niehaus.
2. We are instructed that on 21 July 2021 in a television interview with the host of the popular BBC HARDtalk show/programme, Mr Stephen Sackur, you accused Mr Niehaus of being at the forefront of the civil unrests witnessed last week in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. On 22 July 2021 you published the said interview on your Twitter account page which has approximately 2,5 million followers.
3. We have, ourselves, viewed the clip in which you say inter alia the following:
"...well uhm, they are faceless Steve, errr errr voice notes and all of that. Those that we know at a political level errr is Carl Niehaus who was in the forefront and some other people around him who were basically in the forefront of undermining for the rule of law."
4. Your statements or allegations are false, malicious and misleading.
4.1 They mean that Mr Niehaus led or was part of the people who led or orchestrated the civil unrests, which is false. Mr Niehaus did not lead or
4.2 They imply that Mr Niehaus is a criminal or engages in criminal acts, again which is false and misleading. Mr Niehaus is not a criminal, does not engage in criminality or incite people to engage in criminality.
4.3 Your statements are malicious. You completely ignore and twists the facts.
Mr Niehaus has not been charged or implicated in any wrongdoing for the civil unrests of last week. Yet you create the impression that Mr Niehaus is involved in criminality.
5. Mr Niehaus is a well-known political figure and serves as the spokesperson of the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association. One of the founding principles of MKMVA is to promote and maintain high standard of discipline and professional integrity. Your statements suggest that Mr Niehaus' alleged rogue behaviour is a betrayal of these principles of the MKMVA. We can only surmise that you have done this for the sole purpose of gaining popularity at the expense of Mr Niehaus.
6. In light of what is stated here, it is plain that your statements are intentionally defamatory. You are warned to withdraw and apologise to Mr Niehaus unreservedly for the false and defamatory statements and desist from repeating same. Your statements are damaging to the good name and reputation of Mr Niehaus and have put his life at risk.
7. Given the seriousness and urgency of the matter, we expect your retraction and apology by no later than 15h00 on Friday 23 July 2021.
8. If you do not comply with the terms of this letter, Mr Niehaus reserves the right to
take appropriate legal steps against you, including an interdict and a claim for damages in due course. We trust that you will comply with this demand and it will not be necessary for us to approach a court for relief.
Mr Eric Mabuza
Herewith the letter that my laywer, Eric Mabuza, sent to Min. @MbalulaFikile. The Minister must retract and apologize unconditionally by no later than 15:00 tomorrow. We are not playing, if he does not comply, we will certainly meet in court next week. Enough is enough! pic.twitter.com/bZ3wNQ7IHy— Carl Niehaus (@niehaus_carl) July 22, 2021
Reply by Edward Nathan Sonnebergs on behalf of Minister Fikile Mbalula:
MR CARL NIEHAUS / MINISTER FIKILE MBALULA S
23 July 2021
1. We act for and on the instructions of Minister Fikile Mbalula Your letter to our client dated 22 July 2021 has been handed to us for attention and reply
2. Our omission to deal with each and every allegation or contention made in your letter should not be
construed as an admission. Our client's rights to deal with same in due course and at the appropriated juncture. should it become necessary. are specifically reserved.
3 We are instructed to respond cnsply and inexhaustively as follows:
3.1. Your client. Carl Niehaus. is a self-confessed (publican, fraudster and perpetual mishandler and
abuser of his personal finances which has repeatedly landed him in disrepute. Accordingly. the allegations in your letter that he '... is not a criminal, does not engage in criminality.... and that he promotes and maintains high standards of discipline and professional integrity and the suggestion that he is a person of good standing and reputation, are patent, untrue.
3.2. Your client is one of the leaders of the #FREEJACOBZUMA campaign. Last week's public riots
and looting were sparked or incited by the imprisonment of Jacob Zuma. of which the campaign admits it knew before they commenced, but took no steps to stop. Instead it fuelled them. This is evident in inter alia its media statement of 16 July 2021, which was tweeted far and wide by your client.
3.3. Below are but a few pertinent examples relating to your client and the campaign:
- According to an article published by Ch. Ndou of the Witness on News,. website. dated 2 July 2021, titled 'MKMVA threatens violence if Zuma is Imprisoned'. Niehaus said that he had warned the ANC leadership that there would be dire' consequences should Zuma be imprisoned. The article goes on to quote Niehaus who stated that. ',Jur country would be tom apart. There would be instability and unrest.'
- in the video of his briefing at Nkandla on 2 July 2021. Niehaus says that. 'if president Zuma continue[s] to be targeted and if he is eventually sentenced to prison: that our country will be torn apart; that violence will be inevitable because of this.'
- On 7 July 2021. the ANC's NEC delivers to Niehaus. a 'notice of intention to institute disciplinary action against [him] and temporally suspend (his) membership with immediate effect' for amongst other things. bringing the party's name into disrepute following his 'inflammatory speeches made outside the home of the Former President'.
3.4. Your client has transgressed in various ways the Regulations relating to the prevention and
combating of the spread of COVID-19, which transgressions constitute criminal offences. He has recently paid an admission of guilt fine for one such transgression.
3.5. In the light of the above. our client denies strongly that he has defamed your client. It is a
requirement for defamation that the individual defamed must be a of good standing or repute, which requirement your client does not meet. Without derogating from the above. our client's statements were in the public interest.
4. Our client will oppose or defend any legal steps which your client may ill-advisedly take against our client. Our offices are authorised to accept any legal process by your client on behalf of our client.
5. All of our client's rights are fully and strictly reserved.
EDWARD NATHAN SONNENBERGS INC.
Sent electronically. without signature