Judge strikes Limpopo MEC's defamation case against News24 off the roll with costs

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Thandi Moraka has rejected the allegations made against her.
Thandi Moraka has rejected the allegations made against her.
Frennie Shivambu, Gallo Images

Former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) boss and current Limpopo MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture Thandi Moraka's defamation case against News24 has been struck off the urgent court roll with costs.

The matter was heard in the Limpopo High Court before Judge Gerrit Muller on Tuesday morning. Moraka took News24 to court over an article published under The Eskom Files, alleging that Moraka had benefitted from an Eskom slush fund, Babinatlou Business Services, funded by kickbacks.

According to files contained in The Eskom Files, Moraka received multiple payments from the slush fund, which was funded by major Eskom contractors to fund the lavish lives of senior Eskom officials.

READ | Limpopo MEC takes News24 to court on urgent basis over The Eskom Files slush fund allegations

Represented by Kate Hofmeyr SC and instructed by Willem de Klerk, News24 was able to successfully challenge the MEC's urgent application once Judge Muller raised his doubts.

Judge Muller put it to Moraka's representative, advocate L Sefudi, that the article had already been published and the alleged damage had been done, to which Sefudi replied that the harm of the article continued while it was still published.

Hofmeyr said: "What do you do when [the applicant] approaches the court post-publication? Well, you're essentially trying to close the stable once the horse has bolted."

Hofmeyr added that the Press Ombudsman would have been a swifter way to seek recourse. She said the two points the applicant raised on an urgent basis – that she was a public figure who had suffered harm and that she had to do electioneering – were unwarranted.

Sefudi said the MEC had not benefitted from any kickbacks and the allegations needed to be speedily retracted.

Judge Muller ruled that the matter did not need to be heard as soon as had been requested. He struck the matter off the roll and awarded costs for counsel for News24.

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Editor's Note: In a previous version of this article, the headline stated the case was dismissed. The case was instead struck off the roll. The headline has been changed to reflect this.

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