D-day for Zuma to press libel suits

2013-05-23 00:00

THE 14 claims instituted by President Jacob Zuma against the media since 2006 could end up costing him rather than providing a windfall of up to R60 million.

The suits all claim Zuma was libelled and his reputation impugned.

Today is D-day for Zuma to provide legal papers in six of the cases to Dario Milo of the law firm Webber Wentzel.

Among the suits are two claims of R5 million each against political cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro (aka Zapiro) over cartoons published in the Star.

Milo, who acts for Independent Newspapers, Avusa (formerly Johnnic Holdings) and the Citizen, had by time of going to press yesterday not had any word from Zuma’s legal team.

“If the deadline lapses today, we will apply for an order compelling Zuma to reveal the documents.

“If he misses the deadline again, we will apply for the cases to be dropped,” said Milo.

Media24 successfully concluded the same process earlier this year when claims against Rapport and Sunday Sun were dropped after Zuma was ordered to bear the legal costs. Willem de Klerk, for Media24, said these could amount to R300 000.

Of the 14 cases, only one has been decided in favour of Zuma. Media24 paid out R50 000 over the publication of a reader’s letter in Rapport.

Zuma’s legal adviser, Michael Hulley, declined to comment yesterday, saying the Presidency would make an announcement about the issue next week.

Media lawyers have cast doubts on the seriousness of the suits and say they seem intended to intimidate the media rather than come to court.

Milo agreed, saying the regularity with which suits were filed between 2006 and 2010, and Zuma’s neglect in following through, showed he was never serious about them.

Last October, Zuma dropped a case against Shapiro and the Sunday Times.

At the time, his spokesperson Mac Maharaj said this was because he did not want to restrict media freedom. But Milo said that if this were indeed the reason, the president would have dropped the other cases.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.