Former DA councillors sue Maimane for R1 million each
Five former DA leaders in the City of Cape Town have served party leader Mmusi Maimane with a summons, each claiming R1m from him for defamation, one of them said in a statement on Thursday.
The action relates to comments Maimane made to the media and those published in his newsletter, Bokamoso .
The five former councillors, Suzette Little, Shaun August, Siyabulela Mamkeli, Gregchan Barnardo and Thulani Stemele, resigned from the council in October.
In the piece published in the newsletter, titled "Cape Town city council: We cannot sacrifice accountability on the altar of false racial victimhood", Maimane said the DA "sought accountability" in the City of Cape Town.
"Playing the race card is also a convenient way to escape accountability," he wrote.
He said reports compiled by law firm Bowmans (Formerly Bowman Gilfillan) into allegations of maladministration in the City "made adverse findings against some councillors".
But the councillors took issue with Maimane's comments and their attorneys demanded that he retract the statements unconditionally and apologise.
"This was based on the fact that none of our names were in the report nor were we implicated in the investigation," Little said in the statement.
Maimane re-released the newsletter, but added a disclaimer which read: "Friday's Bokamoso contained a factual inaccuracy regarding the role of the five former DA councillors in Cape Town, an error for which we apologise. Please find below the corrected version."
The offending parts of the newsletter were amended.
SABC News later reported that Maimane's spokesperson Graham Charters said he had retracted the statement.
However, the councillors said the retraction was not good enough and threatened to take legal action unless they received a formal retraction and apology.
"Maimane issued a replacement Bokamoso newsletter, but did not retract his comments. In fact, his replacement Bokamoso newsletter continued to accuse us of being party to some sort of cover up," Little said in Thursday's statement.
"Maimane damaged our reputations gratuitously and widely and he was not man enough to correct his own conduct," she said.
Little added: "Now that we have used our rights to protect our names by instituting this summons, we trust that Maimane understands the serious nature of the reputational damage he has caused."
Charters told News24 that Maimane's lawyers would respond to the councillors' summons in "due course".