High Court wrongly applied legal principles in Manuel defamation case

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)  contends that the High Court wrongly applied relevant facts and legal principles in its defamation case involving party leader Julius Malema and former party spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

This is contained in papers before the Supreme Court of Appeal in the case against former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel. The EFF lost its bid to appeal against a judgment ordering that it pay the former minister R500 000 in damages. The High Court declared that Malema and Ndlozi had defamed Manuel when they accused him of corruption and nepotism in the appointment of SARS commissioner, Edward Kieswetter.

The party approached the Supreme Court Appeal (SCA) in a bid to have the High Court judgment set aside.

The EFF argues that the R500 000 damages awarded to Manuel is both without precedent and grossly excessive considering the evidence presented in court, and that no damages ought to have been awarded where the application is without merit.

The party is adamant that the process to appoint SARS commissioner was veiled in secrecy, even though Manuel eventually recused himself when Kieswetter was interviewed, but this fact was never disclosed to the public-at-large.

They have further submitted that the High Court order serves as permanent ban on their ability to exercise their constitutional rights to free speech.