Malema loses defamation appeal against ex-EFF MP who says he confessed to getting VBS loot

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EFF leader Julius Malema and EFF MP Floyd Shivambu
EFF leader Julius Malema and EFF MP Floyd Shivambu
Photo: AFP
  • Julius Malema wanted the Supreme Court of Appeal to rule that Thembinkosi Rawula's allegations against him and Floyd Shivambu were "false and defamatory".
  • The court's majority has now denied the appeal application.
  • Rawula made a series of accusations against Shivambu and Malema in a deleted Facebook post that the EFF claimed was not backed up by any real evidence.

The Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema's defamation claim against a former party MP who claimed that he confessed to getting money from the looted VBS bank.

Malema argued that Thembinkosi Rawula had failed to produce any evidence to back up multiple serious claims that he made against Malema and fellow EFF leader Floyd Shivambu in a now-deleted 2019 Facebook post and during subsequent media interviews. He wanted Rawula's statements to be declared false and defamatory, and sought an interdict to block him from making such claims in the future.

READ | Malema drops R1m damages claim against ex-EFF MP who said he confessed to getting VBS loot

The Supreme Court of Appeal was not convinced, finding in a majority ruling delivered on Wednesday that Rawula, who could not afford lawyers to defend himself against Malema, "had established a sustainable foundation by way of evidence that a defence of truth and public interest or fair comment was available to be pursued".

In other words, the court was not convinced that there was no truth to Rawula's claims.

In a ruling written by Judge Ashton Schippers, the Appeal Court also found that Gqeberha High Court Acting Judge Nicholas Mullins had "rightly concluded" that Malema had not made out a case for a final interdict against Rawula.

In his Facebook post, Rawula had alleged:

  • Firstly, that Malema and Shivambu "have made it clear that this is their organisation and you can come and join us and not the other way round". The EFF had argued this statement falsely suggested a "lack of democracy and dictatorial tendencies" within the party.
  • Secondly, that they "would use training providers who would inflate costs 250% so that they can run away with 150% of the inflated costs. In the absence of financial reports from the pair, we would be forced to conclude as such.
  • And thirdly, that Malema and Shivambu had admitted in a meeting of the party's 40-member central command team (CCT), its highest decision-making body between conferences, that they had received money from the looted VBS bank.

The Appeal Court's majority has now found that there was "nothing in the evidence" presented by Malema and the EFF to gainsay Rawula's claim that he "had obtained access to privileged information" because he served on the CCT.

It further stated that it was "telling" that Malema had not sued media bodies "for any injury to his good name or reputation" after they had reported on him allegedly benefitting from the looting of VBS bank, but had instead gone after Rawula. The EFF has consistently denied that it received money from VBS.

This is a developing story.


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