A legal battle is unfolding at the Pretoria High Court between Deputy Defence and ANC veteran Kebby Maphatsoe as well as Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
This follows Maphatsoe’s defamation lawsuit, in which he is demanding R1.2 million for an alleged attack on him by Mbalula on social media in October last year.
Maphatsoe, who is also former president of the disbanded Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association, filed his particulars of claim at the same court in November, citing that the statements Mbalula made on his Twitter page were false and damaging to his reputation.
“The defendant [Mbalula] published and/or caused to be published the following statements concerning the plaintiff [Maphatsoe] to millions of people unknown to him … that the defendant was a thug ... a criminal … and that the plaintiff used certain security companies that the defendant had removed from the contracts for the protection of assets of the Passenger Rail Association of SA as his milking cow,” read his court papers.
“[The defendant also stated that the] plaintiff was used to threatening people and had run away from Umkhonto weSizwe camp and lost his arm in doing so ... that he was a coward and hid behind ANC structure to camouflage his nefarious intentions of looting state entities.”
The papers claimed these statements were intended to depict Maphatsoe as a dangerous and corrupt hypocrite.
Maphatsoe also asked the court to order Mbalula to publish a retraction of the statements and apologise for them.
In March, Mbalula’s legal team filed a notice to defend the matter, saying that Maphatsoe’s claims were unsustainable:
“In the particulars of claim, the plaintiff refers to companies from which the readers of the statements understood he derived an unlawful income. In doing so, he does not identify said companies which said readers identify or associate with him. Thus the particulars of claim are vague and embarrassing, and alternatively lack the necessary averments...”
Mbalula’s papers deny that Maphatsoe was portrayed as a criminal by the statements.
“The particulars of claim make no sense and thus the defendant cannot plead issuable to them,” they read.
A date for the court hearing has not been announced.
It also emerged this month that Mbalula was engaged in a similar legal battle with suspended ANC member Carl Niehaus, who instituted an R8 million claim against him at the Johannesburg High Court after Mbalula allegedly called him a thug on social media.