ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has denied withdrawing a defamation case against the general secretary of the SA Council of Messianic Churches in Christ, Buyisile Ngqulwana.
Magashule filed a R500 000 defamation case against Ngqulwana over his claim that he was one of the people behind the establishment of the African Transformation Movement (ATM) as part of efforts to destabilise the ANC.
The secretary-general’s lawyer, Victor Nkhwashu, though a media statement on Tuesday said the matter which was scheduled to be heard before the Bloemfontein High Court on Thursday was merely taken off the court roll so that his legal team could reinstate it on a later suitable date.
“Our client is the applicant in the matter, and he is represented by our law firm which has briefed senior counsel in the matter. Our office has sought and was granted the date of March 26, Thursday, for the hearing of the defamation suit to be heard by the court.
“Unfortunately, our lead counsel became unavailable due to an unrelated matter which he was called up by the Supreme Court of Appeal to make himself available on the same day with the matter at the Bloemfontein High Court,” said Nkhwashu.
This comes after Ngqulwana described Magashule as “nervy” for removing the matter from the court roll “at the eleventh hour”.
Court papers dated March 3, and seen by City Press, confirmed that the applicant, Magashule, “herein removes this matter from the roll, which was set down for March 26”.
This led Ngqulwana, who was a member of the African Transformation Congress (ATC), which later changed its name to the ATM, to go on a victory parade saying Magashule was backtracking “because he is afraid that the truth is catching up with him”.
Magashule’s legal team however said “the matter between our client against Mr Ngqulwana is not withdrawn but it will be heard on April 30 2020 in the High Court of South Africa, sitting in Bloemfontein”.
Nkhwashu said as a result of Ngqulwana’s sentiments, he had notified the registrar of the high court to allocate a new date which has since been done.
He went on to allege that Ngqulwana’s legal representatives had since withdrawn their services on February 3.
“Our office has requested him to supply us with contact details of his new legal team, if any, on two occasions on February 4 2020 as well as February 7th and to date, we have received no such communique from either Mr Ngqulwana or his legal representatives”.
Ngqulwana was not readily available for comment.