Johannesburg – Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP, Dr. Mbuyiseni Quintin Ndlozi, has won his defamation case against the Daily Sun, for a report which said he had been named as a rape suspect.
In the defamation judgment handed down electronically on Tuesday, (19 September 2023), S D J Wilson, Judge of the High Court, ruled: “The first respondent (Media 24) is directed to remove these unlawful and defamatory statements from all its media platforms including its website, Twitter account, and Facebook account within one week of the date of this order”.
EFF MP Dr. Ndlozi – represented by K Premhid F Mahomed S Mohammed (Pupil Advocate) instructed by Ian Levitt Attorneys – brought the April 2021 matter to the High Court of South Africa (Gauteng Division, Johannesburg).
Dr. Ndlozi first complained in 2021 that a Daily Sun poster, which read Mbuyiseni Ndlozi raped me!, and a subsequent tweet and newspaper story published in April of that year defamed him.
Media24 and its co-respondents, Daily Sun editor Mapula Nkosi and reporter Amos Mananyetso, represented by G Kairinos SC S Mathe – instructed by Jurgens Bekker Attorney, argued the story was in the public interest and that all reasonable steps to authenticate it had been carried out.
However, the judge said the law recognises that it is not always in the public interest to publish a fact merely because it is likely to be of interest to the public.
“Cases where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy are a paradigmatic example,” Judge Wilson said.
In coming to the finding that Dr. Ndlozi was defamed, Judge Wilson said: “I first set out, and identify the sting of, the three statements of which Dr. Ndlozi complains”.
Singling out the three statements Dr. Ndlozi complained about, the judge said the lawfulness of publishing them could be properly decided on motion, and that two of them were defamatory and substantially true.
But their publication, on the facts of this case, was not for the public benefit.
Judge Wilson said: These conclusions compel me to find that the respondents have unlawfully defamed Dr. Ndlozi and that he is entitled to a declaration that this is so.
“He is also entitled to an order that the two defamatory statements be removed from Media 24s online media platforms.
“Any further relief to which he may be entitled is a matter that should either be agreed between the parties, or on which oral evidence should be led.
“I will make an order setting out how that oral evidence, if it is necessary, should be taken.”
Judge Wilson added: “It follows from all this that I can decide Dr. Ndlozis prayer for a declaration that he has been unlawfully defamed, and his prayer that the defamatory material be removed from Media 24s media platform on the papers before me.
“His prayer for damages and an apology must, though, stand over for later determination once oral evidence has been led.”
Judge Wilson also ordered Media 24, the owners of Daily Sun, to pay the costs of the application to date, including the costs of two counsel.
*Edited by Mlungisi Zondi