South Africa 7.9.2017 04:00 pm

Manyi’s legal team wants judge to recuse herself from his defamation case

Owner of the media operations formerly known as ANN7 and The New Age Mzwanele Manyi speaks to the media outside the High Court in Johannesburg on 7 September 2017. Manyi appeared in court today over a defamation case brought against him by entrepreneur Magdalena Wierzycka. Picture: Yeshiel Panchia

Owner of the media operations formerly known as ANN7 and The New Age Mzwanele Manyi speaks to the media outside the High Court in Johannesburg on 7 September 2017. Manyi appeared in court today over a defamation case brought against him by entrepreneur Magdalena Wierzycka. Picture: Yeshiel Panchia

The application for acting judge Fiona Dippenaar to recuse herself from preceding over the libel suit will be heard on Friday.

Media baron Mzwanele ‘Jimmy’ Manyi’s legal team on Thursday reportedly asked a judge presiding over a defamation case, brought against him by billionaire entrepreneur Magdalena Wierzycka, to recuse herself from preceding over the matter.

Wierzycka, the chief executive of Sygnia Asset Management and South Africa’s wealthiest woman, last week filed an urgent application to the Johannesburg High Court seeking an order declaring statements Manyi made against her on Twitter and Facebook – including that she was guilty of economic “terrorism” – defamatory.

According to a TimesLIVE report, Manyi was informed by his counsel, Vuyani Ngalwana SC, before court proceedings that acting judge Fiona Dippenaar comes from the same group of chambers as Wierzycka’s counsel David Unterhalter SC.

However, Unterhalter argued that the request for Dippenaar to recuse herself was without any basis as the constitution permitted the appointment of acting judges.

“The constitution envisaged that there would be acting judges. There must be substantial reasons for a judge to recuse him or herself. There is no case that has been made out‚” Unterhalter told the court.

Judge Dippenaar ordered Manyi’s legal team to prepare a written application providing reasons why she should recuse herself from the case.

“The applicant [Manyi] should file his application by 4pm [Thursday] and the respondent should file answering papers by 6pm‚” she ruled.

Wierzycka wants the court to interdict Manyi from publishing more defamatory statements against her. She also wants the court to order Manyi to issue an unconditional apology and retraction on social media, as well as to remove the statements on all the platforms on which they were originally posted.

Manyi, however, contends that his social media statements about Wierzycka do not amount to defamation, harassment and hate speech. He believes the urgent application should be struck off the roll, as there is no urgency in the matter.

The application for the judge to recuse herself will be heard on Friday.

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