The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein has dismissed EFF leader Julius Malema’s appeal in his defamation fight against former MP Thembinkosi Rawula.
This is after he accused Rawula of tarnishing his political image.
In November 2019, the high court in the Eastern Cape dismissed Malema’s defamation case against the former party MP, after suing him for R1 million.
“It’s not an EFF initiative, it’s between me and him,” Malema said at the time.
Rawula deleted a social media post in which he made damning allegations against Malema and the party’s deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, earlier in the year.
Malema approached the courts following allegations made by Rawula that Malema and Shivambu had taken money from VBS Bank.
Rawula had called Malema and his deputy president Floyd Shivambu “the pair”, and alleged the EFF was like a “financial fishing net” for them, “an antithesis of everything they support”.
He alleged Malema had admitted in a party meeting to taking money from the now liquidated VBS Mutual Bank.
“The political overview of Julius Malema in the most recent CCT meeting admitted to EFF taking VBS money to finance the revolution. In fact, [Malema] said, ‘sometimes we are forced to kiss dogs or [the] devil to get funding’”.
“The VBS money was done under the full knowledge of the leadership,” he claimed in his post.
He also alleged that Malema and Shivambu had been abusing millions in party funds, particularly from the levies the party imposed on its elected representatives and constituency funds received from Treasury.
“All these monies are centralised in the EFF under the control, abuse and dictatorship of Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu. This pair has made it clear, this is their organisation, and all of you have come to join us, not the other way round.”
The EFF subsequently dismissed Rawula’s allegations as lies driven by him not having made the nominations cut to return to parliament.
But Rawula insisted he was not speaking out over bitterness, but because he wanted the truth to be known and he wanted to speak out against corruption.
“At some point, one has to speak the truth.”
Now, the Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed Malema’s appeal against the high court’s order.
The judges also criticised Malema for not taking to court the media publications that had implicated him in their VBS reports, and opting to take on Rawula instead.
“The SCA held that the respondent, an unrepresented litigant in person, 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.
“There was nothing in the evidence to gainsay his claim that he had obtained access to privileged information because he served on the CCT,” reads part of the judgment.
“The fact that he or the EFF had received VBS money – which he denied in the papers – and that the appellant had personally benefited from it, were already in the public domain.
“It was telling that the applicant had taken no action against the print or electronic media for any injury to his good name or reputation.”
Read the full judgment below:
Media Summary: Julius Sello Malema v Thembinkosi Rawula (139/2020)  ZASCA 88 (23 June 2021).
The SCA today dismissed the appeal against the high court’s order. pic.twitter.com/2cD0Zoasa2
— Supreme Court of Appeal ZA (@SCA_ZA) June 23, 2021
An interdict could also not be granted to Malema since he had accepted that there was no risk of future republication of the allegations by Rawula.
“There was nothing left to restrain and no risk of future. The appeal was accordingly dismissed.”
The minority judgment found that while Malema failed to show that Rawula acted unlawfully by publishing a statement that Malema’s conduct as a leader of the EFF was undemocratic and unlawful, Rawula did not put up admissible evidence in support of his allegations that Malema was corrupt, stole money or was of base moral character.