Mashaba's defamation case an 'abuse' of the courts

2018-12-03 17:32
Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba. (Lucky Morajane, Gallo Images, Daily Sun, file)

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba. (Lucky Morajane, Gallo Images, Daily Sun, file)

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Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba's defamation case against his predecessor is an abuse of the courts as he is playing politics, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg heard on Monday.  

"This is a bad case, it shouldn't have been argued, it is just a parade," advocate Ishmael Semenya argued on behalf of Parks Tau.  

"You don't use interim relief in respect of past conduct," Semenya said. 

Mashaba has approached the court seeking an interim relief order for Tau to retract and apologise unreservedly for a statement he made in 2016, accusing him of being a "bigoted sexist who is racist and wishes he is not black".

Mashaba also wants the court to order Tau, the ANC Women's League and Cosatu to retract their "offending remarks".

He also wants the parties to refrain from repeating the remarks, and also issue an unconditional and widespread apology. 

Right to hold office 'threatened'

Advocate Dali Mpofu, representing Mashaba, told the court that because of Tau's comments, Mashaba was likely to be viewed in a negative light by the population. 

READ: Mashaba drags Parks Tau to court for defamation

Mpofu said his client's right to hold office may be "threatened" if he is called sexist and anti-black. 

"Let's us assume that there are elections tomorrow and these views that he is a racist are all there and are being repeated, how can it be denied that that would diminish his chances to exercise his profession?

"All your Lordship has to say is, 'we accept that there is a limit, and prima facie in this case, that limit was exceeded or not' and to call somebody those things borders on those limits," he said.

However, Semenya labelled Mashaba's application as an "abuse" of the court. He said parties made all sorts of statements to attract voters. 

"This is electioneering time. There is no interim relief that is being sought here. We are just playing politics," Semenya said. 

Semenya argued that Mashaba could not seek interim relief when the alleged utterances were made two years and four months ago.  

He said the application was launched 105 days after the alleged statements. 

In 2016, soon after Mashaba's election as mayor, Tau was reported to have verbally attacked Mashaba at the funeral of ANC councillor Nonhlanhla Mthembu, claiming Mashaba was sexist and anti-black.

'Senior executives prostituted themselves'

Mthembu died in August 2016 after collapsing during proceedings to vote for the new mayor of the City.

During Mthembu's funeral, Tau reportedly said Mashaba had no respect for women. 

"The City of Johannesburg is today led by a man who believes that the women who are senior executives prostituted themselves to be in the jobs they are in. He says that in fact for them to earn the positions that they are in they had to sleep with the leadership.

"We have heard views from the mayor, Herman Mashaba, who says that in fact if it were up to him he would not want to be black," he is reported to have said at the time. 

Following his case on Monday, Mashaba told reporters that: "I am happy with the argument my legal team advanced. There isn't anywhere where I have made statements that women are prostitutes. 

"I have made it very clear when I was asked about this case and I maintain it that as a new administration that is why people voted for change.

"We cannot appoint people on the basis of wives and girlfriends. We have to establish professional public service. When we employ people, let's employ people that are actually fit for purpose," he said.  

Judgment has been reserved in the matter.  

Read more on:    herman mashaba  |  parks tau  |  courts

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