The Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema and his party are planning to continue fighting to appeal the recent judgement finding them guilty of defaming former finance minister Trevor Manuel. This time, they will be heading to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).
This follows the High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday dismissing an application by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) for leave to appeal the ruling.
On May 30, it was ruled that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had 24 hours to remove statements about Manuel from all the party’s media platforms and that it should apologise to him after they were found to be “defamatory and false”.
The party was also ordered to pay damages of R500,000, money that Manuel said he would donate to charity. It was also ruled that the three respondents must pay Manuel’s legal costs.
EFF leader Julius Malema tweeted on the same day as the ruling that the party had instructed its attorneys to appeal it.
“Not even courts should be allowed to silence the truth, also if that truth is against the Thuma Mina group of the ruling elite,” he said.
The party, as well as Malema and Ndlozi, were interdicted by the court “from publishing any statement” that says or implies that Manuel “is engaged in corruption and nepotism in the selection of the commissioner of the South African Revenue Service”.
In a statement, the EFF said the judgment on Thursday “related to our correct observation, which Manuel does not dispute, that he was conflicted in interviewing Edward Kieswetter because they are friends”.
The party said it had made the statement about Manuel in a political context.
“Our constitutional jurisprudence is very clear on separating the standard to be applied to allow for free political speech, which must not be confused with normal private interactions. The court seriously erred in not applying the correct standard,” the statement reads.
In his judgment, Judge J Matojane said the party’s conduct and that of Ndlozi and Malema “has been egregious and hurtful”.
“The motive and conduct of the respondents are relevant. They stubbornly refuse to retract, apologise or remove the impugned statement from their social media platforms, when it is evident that they should do so.
“These factors collectively establish the existence of actual malice and a desire to hurt Manuel in his person, and professionally, through the widespread dissemination of the defamatory statement.”
In a statement in March, the EFF accused Manuel of nepotism and corruption in influencing the appointment of new Sars commissioner Kieswetter.
Manuel approached the high court after the party accused him of a conflict of interest in the appointment.
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.
The EFF leader has, however, urged his followers not to be moved by the ruling, saying his party was not the first to lose a court case.
He told a June 16 gathering at Fort Hare University: “When the EFF loses cases against Trevor Manuel, I don’t care whether we lose 500 cases. As long as we lose cases against the enemy, we must put pressure and fight the enemy. Stop imposing your morals on us. Mandela who lost a case was arrested and imprisoned, yet he remained your hero.
“We’re not the first to lose cases, let us remain your hero even when we lose cases, that’s how it works. Stop being crybabies, we’re in a revolution here.”
UPDATE: This article was updated to reflect the EFF’s intention to take the case to the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA). 13:23. April 18.