Appeal court dismisses Malema’s R1m defamation claim over looted VBS money

Appeal court dismisses Malema’s R1m defamation claim over looted VBS money

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Cape Town – The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has dismissed EFF leader Julius Malema's defamation claim against Thembinkosi Rawula, a former party MP.

Malema had sought a final court order interdicting Rawula from publishing more allegations and also wanted him to pay R1 million in damages.

The SCA dismissed the appeal, upholding the high court judgment that Malema had failed to make a case for a final interdict.

In a majority ruling on Wednesday, the SCA ruled that Rawula “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”.

“Moreover, since the appellant (Malema) accepted that there was no risk of future republication by the respondent (Rawula), an interdict could not be granted, as there was nothing left to restrain and no risk of future injury. The appeal was accordingly dismissed,’’ the court ruled.

Rawula claimed in a long-deleted Facebook post on April 5, 2019, among others, that Malema and his deputy, Floyd Shivambu, had accepted money from the looted and now-defunct VBS Mutual Bank, had centralised the party’s funds – received from party membership, Parliament, provincial legislatures and councillors – and ’’have made it clear that this is their organisation and you can come and join us and not the other way round’’.

Rawula said this was evidenced by the fact that the party’s financial records had not been tabled before the Central Command Team since 2014.

“You use the EFF money in whatever way you deemed fit without consulting any of us,” Rawula had claimed, further alleging that VBS money was paid into a R5.2 million property Malema occupied.

Representing himself, Rawula insisted that Malema had made the admission of receiving VBS money in a meeting of the CCT. Malema, on the other hand, argued that Rawula had not produced any evidence to back up any of his claims.

The SCA 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.

The SCA found 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.

The court also said it was “telling” Malema had not sued any media organisations “for any injury to his good name or reputation” after reports of him allegedly benefiting from the VBS looting.

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