Zuma media claims an 'intimidation tactic'

Johannesburg - The 14 large defamation claims totalling about R60m that President Jacob Zuma has instituted against the media since 2006 may instead end up costing him dearly.

All of the claims relate to alleged slander and defamation, reported Die Burger.

Thursday is the last day for the president to hand over documents relating to six claims he instituted against the media.

Amongst others, Zuma is claiming R5m in two claims against Jonathan Shapiro for Zapiro cartoons that appeared in The Star.

“If the deadline is missed today, we will apply for a court order against President Zuma to hand over the documents. If he misses the deadline again, we will ask that the claims be dropped,” said Dario Milo who is appearing for Independent Newspapers, Avusa and The Citizen.

Legal fees

Earlier this year, two claims against Rapport and one against the Sunday Sun were dropped and Zuma was instructed to pay the legal fees.

Out of 14 matters, only one was decided in Zuma’s favour. Media24 paid R50 000 for a letter that was published in Rapport. 

Zuma’s legal representative, Michael Hulley, did not want to comment on the story.

Media lawyers said they doubted whether Zuma was really serious about the claims and said they were possibly being used as an intimidation tactic to keep the media in check.

Milo said the ease with which claims were instituted between 2006 and 2010 but then neglected could point to Zuma never really being serious about them in the first place.

In October, Zuma also dropped another claim against Shapiro and the Sunday Times.

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