The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg is set rule on whether the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) can appeal an earlier judgment that found the party guilty of making false claims against former finance minister Trevor Manuel.
The court had on Friday deferred its ruling for leave to appeal to Tuesday after hearing arguments from both parties.
In late May Judge Elias Matojane had ordered the EFF to apologise to Manuel after he sued the party for alleging in a statement that he was a business associate of and related to new South African Revenue Service Commissioner Edward Kieswetter.
The EFF, in a statement, had described Manuel’s involvement in Kieswetter’s selection process as "nepotistic" and "corrupt".
Manuel was the head of a selection panel, appointed by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, tasked with interviewing candidates for the top job in the revenue service. The panel made recommendations but did not make the final decision.
On March 30 the court ruled that the EFF's statement was unlawful and false. It ordered the EFF apologise to Manuel and remove the statement from all its platforms. It also awarded Manuel R500 000 in damages.
A good reputation
Lawyers for the EFF last week argued that the R500 000 claim was "disproportionately high". Manuel’s attorney, Carol Steinberg, submitted that his primary concern in the matter was "the restoration of his good reputation and dignity” as false allegations could quickly destroy a good reputation.
Steinberg also noted the EFF’s refusal to retract the defaming statement from its social media platforms and apologise, describing the inaction as a sign of “the existence of actual malice and a desire” to hurt Manuel.
“Such conduct warrants a punitive costs order,” she said.