SCA ruling no "victory" for EFF - Trevor Manuel

Court confirmed that the statements made were false, defamatory and unlawful


On 27 March 2019, the Economic Freedom Fighters, Mr Julius Malema and Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi published a statement which contained the false and highly defamatory allegation that, as Chair of the selection Panel for the Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service, I conducted a corrupt and clandestine process, which led to the unlawful appointment of Mr Edward Kieswetter — who, the statement alleges, is a relative and close business associate of mine — as the new Commissioner of SARS.

I welcome today's decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal which upheld the finding of the High Court that the EFF's statements about me are false, defamatory and unlawful. The SCA rejected all of the defences put up by the EFF to justify their continued publication of a statement which was false and which they knew to be false. In particular, the SCA found that the EFF made no attempt to establish that the defamatory statements about me were true and their publication of the statements demonstrated a willingness to wound me irrespective of the truth of the allegations.

In addition, the SCA ordered the EFF to remove the statement from all their social media platforms within 24 hours and ordered that the allegations contained in the statement may not be repeated.

The SCA held, in addition, that the question of damages and apology should be referred to the High Court for determination. I will be discussing the way forward on these aspects of the judgment with my lawyers.

I have noticed certain media outlets reporting on the SCA judgment as a "victory" for the EFF. This is a clear mischaracterisation of the judgment. The SCA found that the EFF's statements about me were false, unlawful and defamatory, and ordered that they must remove them and can't repeat them. I accordingly await the EFF's removal of the statement from their media platforms by tomorrow morning.

Released by Trevor Manuel, 17 December 2020