Mpumalanga Premier Loses R10m Defamation Lawsuit: Premier David Mabuza’s R10 million defamation lawsuit against ANC former treasurer-general Mathews has been dismissed by the High Court in Pretoria.
Judge Bill Prinsloo brought the long-running case to an end on Friday. He didn’t just rule in favour of Phosa, he also slapped the premier with a punitive costs order.
The brouhaha all started after Mabuza accused Phosa of trying to discredit him in order to regain political influence in the province.
The premier further alleged that Phosa had authored a spy report detailing that he [Mabuza] was an apartheid spy and that he involved in the murder of former ANC activist Portia Shabangu.
Shabangu was murdered by the controversial head of Vlakplaas, Eugene de Kock in the 80’s.
Mabuza also implicated Phosa’s business partner Nick Elliot, claiming the duo were plotting to cost him his position as premier and harm his reputation.
All through, the ANC presidential hopeful maintained that he was not the author of the so-called spy report.
Phosa buttressed that the day he came across the report was the day an unidentified person dropped it in an unmarked envelope at his house in White River.
And that he handed it to Jessie Duarte, deputy general secretary of the ANC in September 2014, out of the concern. He added that Duarte, in turn, forwarded it to the ANC’s top six officials.
“I was shocked by its content and worried about it, as it referred to the premier. The allegations were so serious that I decided to hand it over to the ANC top structures. If the allegations were true, the report could harm the ANC leadership. Only a traitor of the ANC would hide it from them,” he once testified.
He also told the court that his former butler, Jan Venter – who is at the centre of this fight – lied about his knowledge on the matter.
Phosa’s butler, Venter, had testified that he overheard him ‘concocting’ the spy allegations against Mabuza. But the controversial butler switched sides later.
Handing down judgment, Judge Prinsloo said he could not find that Phosa was the author of the document.
“I find nothing improbable about the manner in which, in his evidence, he came into possession of the document…If he [Phosa] did not create the report, there also could not have been any question of the required malice accompanying such creation,” the judge said.
Meanwhile, Phosa has expressed satisfaction with the judgment. He told reporters via telephone shortly after the victory that Mabuza’s attempt to smear him has failed.
“Justice has prevailed. The court ruling this morning has proven my innocence. I was telling the truth and Mabuza was lying all along. The truth is mighty and always prevails.”
Premier David Mabuza is very close to Zuma and a key mover in the unofficial lobby group dubbed the ‘premier league’.
Last week, Mathews Phosa accepted a nomination for the ANC’s presidency from ANC ward 52 in Cape Town.