Manuel, EFF expected back in court in R500 000 defamation case

After a week-long postponement, lawyers for Trevor Manuel and the Economic Freedom Fighters will meet in the High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday for the start of Manuel's R500 000 defamation case against the red berets. 

Manuel approached the court in mid-April after the EFF refused to retract a statement accusing him of nepotism in the process that led to the appointment of Edward Kieswetter as the new commissioner of the SA Revenue Service.

The respondents are listed as the EFF, its leader Julius Malema and its spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. 


Manuel was the head of a selection panel that interviewed candidates for the post of commissioner. The tax agency had been without a permanent head since Tom Moyane was suspended and later fired in 2018. The panel made recommendations, but was not involved in Kieswetter's final selection.

In a statement published on March 27, the EFF had claimed that Kieswetter was a "dodgy character" and a relative and former business associate of Manuel's.

The party also said the new commissioner had been "secretly chosen". Manuel at the time said the characterisation was "libellous" and "racist'.

Manuel wants the court to order that the EFF remove the statement from all their platforms, make an apology and pay damages of R500 000 or an amount determined by the court, as well as Manuel's legal costs. He has said the money would be donated to a worthy cause.

The matter was set to be heard on May 7, but was postponed until Tuesday.

'Grossly defamatory'

After the EFF's statement was published, Manuel's lawyers wrote the EFF a letter demanding a retraction, saying the "patently false and grossly defamatory" statement had been published with the intention of "promoting or propagating hatred" against Manuel.

The EFF did not withdraw the statement. On April 12, after Manuel had lodged his founding affidavit with the court, EFF spokesperson and MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told Fin24 that the party was not intimidated.

"We are ready, and our lawyers are on top of it. We already said this. The bully Manuel will not succeed in silencing us, particularly from subjecting him to the scrutiny that all who are in public institutions have to stand up to."

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