Sowetan and Citizen should apologise to Thandi Modise - Xulu Attorneys

Firm says claims made against NCOP chairperson were without substance, and were reported on without request for comment


2 June 2015

On 21 March 2015 the Sowetan newspaper carried an article entitled “Chairwoman of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise allegedly used her political powers to pressurize a North West businessman to eject President Zuma’s former lawyer.”

The source of the allegation of impropriety against Ms Modise was an affidavit made by Mr Kevin Seriba, the owner of Microzone Projects, filed in response to an application by Mothuloe Attorneys against Microzone Projects and the North West Housing Corporation (NWHC), Mr Seriba, and the North West MEC for Local Government and Housing.

Mr Seriba and his company, Microzone Projects, were appointed on the 6th September 2007 by a Service Level Agreement which was made an order of court on the said date to administer and dispose of the rental portfolio of the NWHC. As a turnkey Consultant, Mr Seriba appointed and retained Mothuloe Attorneys as Conveyancers for the project.

Mothuloe Attorneys sued Microzone (and Mr Seriba) for breach of contract. 

In an affidavit dated the 10th July 2013 filed with the North West High Court under case number: 1684/2009, Mr Seriba claimed that Ms Modise had attemped to bully him into terminating Mothuloe Attorneys’ mandate and appointing Koikanyang Incorporated instead.

He stated that during January or February 2008, Ms Modise, who according to Mr Seriba was the Premier at the time, summoned him to a meeting and had instructed him to appoint Koikanyang Incorporated.  He said that when he refused, the conversation between them had become heated. 

Mr Seriba also claimed that he did not authorize a letter terminating the mandate of Mothuloe Attorneys.  He stated further than when the court papers were served on him, he immediately approached the attorneys appointed by Mothuloe Attorneys and offered to cooperate with them.  He claims that he did so because he wanted to expose corruption in the North West Provincial Government. 

A similar article was published in the Citizen newspaper on the 19th May 2015. The article was written by the same journalist who wrote the article that was published in the Sowetan.

On 23 May 2015 Ms Modise, currently the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), issued a statement in response to press reports implicating her in tender irregularity while she was Speaker of the North West Provincial Legislature. Ms Modise denied the allegations against her. She denied that the conversation had ever taken place. 

She also pointed out that in 2008, she was the Speaker of the North West Legislature, and not the Premier. Of particular concern to Ms Modise was the fact that the newspapers reported on the allegations against her without even attempting to get her comment. 

Ms Modise appointed Xulu Attorneys to investigate the allegations against her and to advise her on an appropriate response.  She undertook to inform the public of the outcome of our investigations.  She did so because as a public representative, Ms Modise recognizes that she occupies a position of trust and responsibility and that the public is entitled to an explanation from her. 

As noted above, Mr Seriba’s allegations against Ms Modise were made in the context of litigation between Mothuloe Attorneys and the NWHC.  The case was argued in the North West High Court on the 12th December 2013 and the case was dismissed same day. Judgment was handed down by Justice Landman and the allegations contained in Seriba’s affidavit in essence were dismissed. Justice Landman made no adverse findings against Ms Modise. 

We are now aware that Koikanyang is suing Mothuloe for defamation and claiming damages in the amount of R 25, 000, 000.00 (twenty five million rands) in the Gauteng Division in Johannesburg under case number: 45624/2013.

In the circumstances, Ms Modise has instructed us to do the following:

1) Request Mr Seriba to publicly withdraw the allegations he made against her in writing;

2) Request both the Sowetan and the Citizen newspapers to issue a public apology to Ms Modise for publishing allegations that are untrue and defamatory without first establishing the facts or asking her to comment. 

Further we have instructions to institute a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Seriba.

Statement issued by Xulu Attorneys Incorporated, June 3 2015