Bernadette Wicks
Senior court reporter
2 minute read
5 May 2021
7:35 pm

Tshwane lawyer slapped with costs after trying to sue The Citizen

Bernadette Wicks

GroundUp, The Citizen and The Daily Dispatch reported how Lesley Ramulifho allegedly used NGO funding from the lotteries commission to buy two Ocean Basket franchises.

Picture: iStock/Zolnierek

A Tshwane attorney got more than he bargained for when he tried suing the press over an expose linking him and his firm to shady lottery grants, only for the court to throw the case out and slap him with the legal costs the titles he hauled to court, including The Citizen, racked up as a result.

Now not only are his assets at risk of being sold to foot the R93,000 bill, he is also staring at a renewed bid to potentially get him disbarred over fraud allegations.

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In April 2019, the High Court in Pretoria dismissed an urgent application that Lesley Ramulifho, of Ramulifho Inc, brought against GroundUp, The Citizen and The Daily Dispatch aimed at the removal of articles detailing how he allegedly hijacked HIV non-governmental organisation Denzhe Primary Care and used funding the National Lotteries Commission had doled out to buy, among others, two Ocean Basket franchises.

Ramulifho said this was a “loan” which he has since repaid.

The court found the case was not urgent and ordered Ramulifho to pay the “wasted” costs the media houses incurred.

But with a R93,086.84 bill still outstanding, the sheriff last month moved to attach moveable property at Ramulifho’s offices.

And his legal woes are stacking up: the Legal Practice Centre (LPC) last year dismissed a misconduct complaint GroundUp lodged against him accusing him of having used forged documents to try and win his case and an appeal bid.

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GroundUp has now turned to the High Court in Johannesburg in a bid to get a judge to set aside the LPC’s decisions and reconsider the complaint.

GroundUp editor Nathan Geffen, in founding papers filed last week, argued the process followed wasn’t in line with the Legal Process Act and was irrational; that the decisions reached were “substantively irrational and unreasonable” and “based on material error of law”.

LPC spokesman Sthembiso Mnisi on Wednesday confirmed the case had been filed.

In his urgent application, Ramulifho accused the press of damaging his reputation, which affected his business “drastically”.

bernadettew@citizen.co.za