Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus is suing Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula for R8 million for calling him a thug and corrupt on Twitter last year.
This followed a series of tweets in October in which Mbalula labelled Niehaus and MKMVA president Kebby Maphatsoe as suspected criminals.
In one of his tweets, Mbalula said: “Carl Niehaus is a well-known thug employed by Magashule at Luthuli House”.
He also tweeted: “Suspected criminals Kebby and Carl Niehaus.”
I have great admiration for umkhonto we sizwe great admiration ????what kebby and niehaus are doing in its name will come to an end one day ,I have less respect for thugs masquerading as mk Period! i rest my case. Ong’funayo makeze ndikhona .
— |Mr Fix (@MbalulaFikile) October 12, 2020
The tweets followed a march by the MKMVA to the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters for Mbalula’s arrest because of the damage done to South Africa’s rail infrastructure, among issues.
Speaking to The Citizen on Wednesday, Niehaus said the sheriff of the court was supposed to deliver the summons to Mbalula on 13 January 2021. However, the court was struggling to get hold of the minister.
“My attorneys were informed that it was particularly difficult for the sheriff of the court to deliver the summons, that the minister was most of the time not in his office and that his secretary and staff were often also not there. The summons has been in the hands of the sheriff of the court for a considerable period of time before he managed to deliver it,” Niehaus said.
He said now that the summons has been served on Mbalula, the legal process could get underway and a court date would be determined.
“It’s now in the hands of the minister. He will have to respond to the summons and decide whether he wants to file an answering affidavit. Obviously, these are matters that have to be fitted into the court roll. So, it’s difficult for me to say exactly on what date this matter will come to finality,” he said.
Niehaus said he was suing Mbalula because he could not get away with insulting people with impunity.
“Minister Mbalula seems to think that he’s got impunity to insult people. He has also insulted minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, minister Lindiwe Sisulu and many others including the secretary-general of the ANC, comrade Ace Magashule.
“I think the time has come for minister Mbalula to be told this is enough. He will not be left with a situation where he feels he has impunity to insult people as he wishes and there will be consequences. That is why I decided to proceed with this summons,” he said.
Mbalula spokesperson Ayanda-Allie Paine declined to comment on the defamation case, saying it was an ANC matter. She could also not confirm whether the minister had received the summons.