Mabuza’s R10m defamation claim against Phosa dismissed

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Mathews Phosa and David Mabuza. (Gallo via Netwerk24)
Mathews Phosa and David Mabuza. (Gallo via Netwerk24)

Pretoria – The defamation case against former ANC treasurer general and businessman Mathews Phosa failed in the High Court in Pretoria on Friday.

The case was brought by Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, Netwerk24 reports. Judge Bill Prinsloo dismissed Mabuza’s claim with costs.

Mabuza claimed R10m in damages from Phosa.

Mabuza claimed Phosa sent a "highly confidential" document to highly-placed ANC members which said he (Mabuza) was an apartheid spy. He believes he was slandered by the document and that Phosa was one of the authors of the "spy report".

Phosa is the former premier of Mpumalanga.

Mabuza also asked the court to order Phosa to publish an unconditional apology in two newspapers, which the judge also dismissed.

In court documents dated September 29, 2014, Mabuza claimed Phosa published and spread a document titled Classified: Top Secret! Reports of a police agent, which defamed him.

'I don't know where it came from'

Phosa forwarded the document with the aim to distribute it further in the ANC, Mabuza claimed.

Mabuza said the document states that "agent" David "DD" Mabuza was in "operation" from 1985 to 1993. Mabuza said the entire report contains statements which are incorrect.

Readers would understand from the document that he was a spy for the South African police, he provided police with information on the activities and people in the ANC, and that he was not loyal towards the ANC.

According to Mabuza, the report said he was a traitor by providing police with confidential information about people in the ANC and that he conducted it before and after the ANC was unbanned by the previous government. Phosa caused the report to be made available to a Sunday newspaper, Mabuza claimed.

Phosa opposed the defamation case and said the accusations against him were fabricated. He testified that the document was given to him in an unmarked envelope by his chef in his house in White River, Mpumalanga, in 2014.

"I don’t know where it came from or who wrote it," Phosa testified.

According to Phosa, the document was sent to ANC deputy secretary general Jesse Duarte because he (Phosa) viewed the allegations in the document as "extremely important".

'Severe damage to integrity'

"It could cause severe damage to the integrity of the ANC as well as the office of the premier," Phosa said.

He said Duarte had said to him a couple of months before the incident: "We as ANC officials want to know exactly who this David Mabuza is.

"That is why I sent the report to her when it came into my possession," Phosa said.

"The next time I heard about it was when a journalist from Beeld phoned me for comment. I asked the journalist to send me the document before I can deliver comment on it. In her innocence, she attached the cover letter from the law firm from which she probably got it."

Phosa said he read a while afterwards in media that there was apparently a defamation-investigation against him.

A former protection policeman and former employee of Phosa’s, Jan Venter, testified that he heard Phosa tell a business partner that they will compile a "spy report" about Mabuza and send it to Luthuli House.

Phosa said the accusations are "false" and testified that he fired Venter after he leaked photos of the interior of his house to the media.

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