Trevor Manuel happy with SCA decision, which confirms he was defamed by the EFF

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Trevor Manuel, former minister of finance.
Trevor Manuel, former minister of finance.
  • Trevor Manuel welcomed the SCA's judgment in upholding the court's finding that EFF statements about him were "false, defamatory and unlawful".
  • The SCA, however, did not endorse the awarding of R500k in damages to Manuel, saying it was "extraordinarily high".
  • Manuel is looking forward to the statements being retracted in 24 hours.

Former finance minister Trevor Manuel welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal  (SCA), which upheld a high court finding that the EFF's statements about him were "false, defamatory and unlawful".

The EFF failed in its efforts to appeal a court ruling that it and its leadership defamed Manuel with false claims that he oversaw a "corrupt" process to appoint new South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Edward Kieswetter, News24 reported.

"The allegations it made were clearly defamatory and concerned a public figure given the responsibility of interviewing people and advising the president on the appointment of the commissioner of SARS. That is a most serious allegation.

"To do so on the basis of a message of this type without any endeavour to confirm the truth of the allegations is inconsistent with the absence of an intention to injure. It demonstrates a willingness to wound, irrespective of the truth of the allegations," the SCA said.

Manuel sued the EFF, its leader Julius Malema and former national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi after they released a statement which alleged that Manuel was corrupt, nepotistic, had conducted himself unlawfully, had conducted "secret interviews" and had participated in a secretive process to select the new SARS commissioner. 

READ | Manuel to EFF: Retract 'false' statement about me and Kieswetter - or else

The matter was heard in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg last year, which found the comments made by the EFF about Manuel were "defamatory and false".

The party subsequently filed an appeal in June last year.

The SCA ruled on Thursday that the political party must remove the statement from all its media platforms within 24 hours and apologise to Manuel.

Damages "extraordinarily high" - SCA

The SCA, however, chose not to endorse the awarding of the "extraordinarily high" R500 000 in damages to Manuel, and referred the determination of the possible sanctions the EFF should face – including being forced to apologise to Manuel – to another court, News24 reported.

"I welcome today's decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal, which upheld the finding of the high court that the EFF's statements about me are false.

"The SCA held, in addition, that the question of damages and apology should be referred to the high court for determination. I will be discussing the way forward on these aspects of the judgment with my lawyers," Manuel said in a statement on Thursday.

Manuel added that reporting on the SCA judgment as a "victory" for the EFF is a "clear mischaracterisation of the judgment".

"I accordingly await the EFF's removal of the statement from their media platforms by tomorrow morning," he concluded.

News24 reached out to EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo for comment. It will be added once it is received.

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