Judgement was on Tuesday reserved in former finance minister Trevor Manuel’s defamation case against the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Manuel approached the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg after the party accused him of a conflict of interest in the appointment of South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Edward Kieswetter.
In a statement in March, the EFF accused Manuel of nepotism and corruption in influencing the appointment of new Sars commissioner Kieswetter.
Manuel was the head of a selection panel that interviewed candidates for the post of commissioner. The tax agency had been without a permanent head since Tom Moyane was suspended and later fired in 2018. The panel made recommendations, but was not involved in Kieswetter’s final selection.
The case was postponed on Tuesday last week after the EFF presented new affidavits before the court and the judge asked for time to study these.
Advocate Carol Steinberg, representing Manuel, told the court that Manuel’s reputation was destroyed by the EFF’s statement.
“The reason that Mr Manuel brought this application was to ensure that Sars’s reputation was cleared as soon as possible.”
She was arguing why Manuel’s application should be heard on an urgent basis.
“Manuel wants the court to order that the EFF remove the false statement from all their platforms, make an apology and pay damages of R500,000, as well as Manuel’s legal costs. Not because he is out of cash but he said the money would be donated to a worthy cause,” said Steinberg.
She said the EFF relied on a “confidential source” who sent them an SMS saying that Kieswetter was related to Manuel, which she referred to as false accusations.
“The EFF told the public that the new Sars commissioner was appointed because he was a relative of Manuel, a close companion whose appointment was made in secret and not because he was the best candidate,” said Steinberg.
Advocate Vuyani Ngalwana, representing the EFF, opposed Manuel’s application and asked the court to strike the matter off the roll as it was not urgent.
“It was not the intention of the EFF to harm the reputation of Manuel and where has it shown that his reputation has been harmed. Nowhere,” said Ngalwana.
The judgement in the matter was reserved by Judge Elias Matojane.
– African News Agency (ANA)