EFF to appeal Trevor Manuel defamation ruling

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The Economic Freedom Fighters says it intends to appeal a defamation ruling against it, after the South Gauteng High Court found the party had made defamatory and unlawful comments against former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel.

Earlier on Thursday the court ordered the EFF to remove the statements from all their media platforms and apologise to Manuel. 

“The EFF has instructed its attorneys to appeal against this judgment of the High Court which ordered the EFF to apologise to Trevor Manuel in respect of an EFF statement issued in the political context,” the party said a statement.

As Fin24 previously reported, Manuel had approached the court after the the party refused to apologise for accusing him of nepotism in the process that led to the appointment of Edward Kieswetter as the new commissioner of the SA Revenue Service. 

According to Thursday's judgment, Manuel had been "injured in his dignity" by the EFF claims and was entitled to R500 000 in punitive costs.  

"Our constitutional jurisprudence is very clear on separating the standard to be applied to allow for free political speech which must not be confused with normal private interactions. The court seriously erred in not applying the correct standard," it stated. 

The party also mentioned that it was concerned about what it called a "growing view among South Africans that our courts are too eager to find in favour of the so-called Thuma Mina or New Dawn faction of the ruling party even when the law seems very clearly against them".

Unrepentant

Manuel was the head of a selection panel, appointed by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, tasked with interviewing candidates for the top job in the revenue service. The panel made recommendations but did not make the final decision. 

The EFF in March had claimed that Kieswetter was a relative of Manuel's and the two had a close business relationship, without providing evidence to support the claim.

"Trevor Manuel formed part of a questionable process of selecting a SARS commissioner in secret, in which the outcome was his personal friend and colleague," said the party.

"We cannot be told to retract the truth, which Manuel himself admits in his court papers."

Early this month, lawyers representing Manuel argued that the claim by EFF that Manuel was related to Kieswetter was false. The former finance minister now sits on the board of various private companies and is the chairperson of Old Mutual.

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