Ngubane ordered to pay up

2012-11-30 00:00

THE Pietermaritzburg high court has ordered former IFP Umvoti mayor Petros Ngubane to pay the present mayor, Philani Godfrey Mavundla, R180 000 for defamation.

The award is for statements made by Ngubane which were published both in the press and radio to the effect that the ANC supported the killing of IFP members and that Mavundla was personally behind the efforts to eliminate IFP members at that time in 2009.

Ngubane also accused Mavundla of bribing members of the Amakhosi in the house of traditional leaders.

Mavundla told The Witness yesterday he had not gone to court for the money.

“I am going to take the R180 000 and donate it to needy people. That’s where it belongs. I do not need it.”

He said he regarded the award as a “moral victory” and wanted the case to send a message to politicians to think about other people before they speak.

Attempts to contact Ngubane, who did not defend the defamation case, were unsuccessful yesterday.

Mavundla had testified that Ngubane had never apologised for the remarks which had placed him and his family in danger.

In a reserved judgment handed down yesterday, acting high court judge Piet Bezuidenhout took into account when awarding the damages, that Mavundla is a prominent member of the ANC in Umvoti, that he has large businesses, that he feared for his and his family’s life and had previously obtained an interdict against Ngubane to stop him making the allegations complained of.

Bezuidenhout said Ngubane’s remarks were indeed defamatory of Mavundla.

“The allegations were published in a newspaper circulating in many areas of South Africa, repeated at a funeral where there was a large crowd and also broadcast over the radio to a large number of people,” the judge said.

There was therefore “vast publication” of the defamatory allegations, there were deaths in the area at the time and Mavundla was never charged with any of the alleged offences.

Judge Bezuidenhout said the amount of damages awarded by courts for defamation varies considerably.

In his view, taking into account all the relevant facts of the defamation case, he believed R180 000 was appropriate in this case.

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