Eskom spokesperson launches crowdfunding appeal for legal costs in fight against Matshela Koko

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Matshela Koko, former acting chief executive officer at Eskom.
Matshela Koko, former acting chief executive officer at Eskom.
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Former journalist and current Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha has launched a crowdfunding appeal for around R1 million to cover the costs of fighting a defamation suit filed against him by Matshela Koko. 

In an opinion piece in the Daily Maverick on Tuesday, Mantshantsha writes that one year ago he received a summons to answer a defamation charge from Koko, which includes a R600 000 damages claim.

"The lawsuit followed a series of news articles I published in the pursuit of my chosen career as a financial journalist in the seven years to June 2019 in the financial publications of Times Media Group, now Arena Holdings," said Mantshantsha.

After leaving Times Media, where he worked at Business Day and the Financial Mail, Mantshantsha joined Daily Maverick before being appointed Eskom spokesperson in January 2020.

In the article, Mantshantsha appeals for financial help to fight the case. He says that although Arena Holdings has already settled about a third of the legal cost, a shortfall of around R1 million remains. "Needless to say, most journalists such as I am have never seen such a sum of money," he said. 

Koko, who briefly served as Eskom's acting CEO during his more than two decades at the power utility, told Fin24 on Tuesday that his defamation suit was directed against "false and defamatory" statements allegedly made by Mantshantsha when he was still a journalist. 

"He must be held to account. You can't lie and claim the lie is in the public interest. That's rubbish," he said via WhatsApp. Koko resigned from Eskom in February 2018 without admitting to wrongdoing.

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