By: Sello Theletsane
JOHANNESBURG- After Patriotic Alliance (PA) President Gayton McKenzie’s lawyer sent a letter to Sunday World taking exception to the tabloid running extracts from an EFF statement about him and his party without seeking McKenzie’s comment, the tabloid finally published an update about the matter on Friday.
AfricaNews24-7 understands that the article only appeared due to McKenzie’s lawyer “alerting” the tabloid to the fact that they had a legal and Press Code obligation to present both sides of the story.
Their second article appeared more than a week after Sunday World’s original article, which repeated allegations from the EFF’s Johannesburg chairperson, councillor Musa Novela, that McKenzie was allegedly running a “criminal syndicate” in the City of Johannesburg and that he had supposedly “captured” the new mayor, Geoff Makhubo and his administration.
Makhubo, the IFP, AIC, Al-Jamaah and the PA itself all slammed the EFF and accused the party of trying to cast unfounded aspersions on the new Government of Local Unity (GLU) in the city.
They all accused the EFF of trying to cling to power in the city following former DA mayor Herman Mashaba’s resignation.
The new administration said it was focused on undoing the alleged corruption and maladministration that had occurred under Mashaba’s leadership – whose close relationship with the EFF became a controversial issue. Mashaba admitted this month that he resigned last year as he became aware that the DA planned to support a motion of no confidence against him and he had no hope of surviving till the end of his term.
The GLU said it would not be distracted by groundless EFF allegations.
Sunday World had also referred to Leanne Williams as the newly appointed “Joburg Market Theatre” CEO, when she is in fact the Joburg Market CEO. The Market Theatre is known for staging award-winning live entertainment productions, while the Joburg Market sells fruit and vegetables.
Attorney Eugene Botha of Erasmus Botha Inc, on behalf of McKenzie, informed the tabloid in a legal letter that they were considering legal action against them for repeating Novela’s “defamatory” statements, among which were that McKenzie was turning the city into a “Gangstar [sic] Paradise”.
Botha labelled the EFF’s statements false and conspiracy theories and advised that legal action was already going ahead against the EFF and Novela.
Called for comment, Botha told AfricaNews24-7 he was confident the civil case against the EFF and Novela could reach judgment within a year. They plan to ask for R2 million in damages, since the “statement has been shared widely among the voting public and has caused significant damage to my client’s reputation and that of his political party and his associates. It has also caused damage to his business interests, which have long pre-dated any involvement in the Government of Local Unity and have no connection to projects in the city,” Botha’s legal correspondence reads.
The EFF was recently handed an embarrassing defeat in a defamation suit against former finance minister Trevor Manuel.
McKenzie has pledged to donate any legal damages he is awarded in this defamation case to the victims of VBS bank looting, in which the EFF and their senior leaders have been implicated.