ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu is suing SABC Group Executive of Corporate Affairs Hlaudi Motsoeneng for R1 million for making “malicious and defamatory allegations” against him.
Mthembu’s office said on Thursday that Motsoeneng‚ during a live broadcast of a New Age business briefing on October 27‚ had made “outrageous claims and veiled threats against the Chief Whip‚ warning him to desist from ‘making a lot of noise’ regarding the SABC and alleging his interest was driven by ulterior motives”.
Motsoeneng further alleged that Mthembu had attempted to “capture” him.
Mthembu’s legal representatives‚ Nicqui Galaktiou Inc‚ sent a letter to Motsoeneng on November 2 demanding an immediate public apology and retraction of his “defamatory claims”.
“The letter further demanded that Mr Motsoeneng disclose all the details of the alleged meeting where such attempted ‘capture’ allegedly took place. Having failed to do so within the stipulated period‚ legal proceedings have now been lodged with the court and Mr Motsoeneng will be served with the papers in the next few days‚” said Mthembu’s office.
“There is no doubt that Mr Motsoeneng’s claims are unfounded‚ unsubstantiated and blatantly false. The made-up accusations‚ aired publicly on live television‚ were intended to impugn the character of the Chief Whip.
“Imputing improper motives on the Chief Whip was clearly designed to threaten and blackmail him and the ANC in Parliament into silence on a matter of principle with the hope that the inquiry into the SABC‚ which the ANC caucus has outspokenly pursued‚ would be abandoned.”
While statements “usually blurted out by Mr Motsoeneng” would ordinarily be dismissed‚ said Mthembu’s office‚ the nature of his allegations were such that‚ if left unchallenged‚ might stand as fact in the minds of some people‚ permanently impairing the Chief Whip’s reputation.
Mthembu‚ in his court papers‚ is asking the court to order Motsoeneng to:
– Pay a sum of R1 000 000;
– Issue unconditional public apology for the injury caused to the Chief Whip as a result of the defamatory statement‚ both in print and over a public broadcast‚ within seven days of the date of judgment; and
– Pay the legal costs
“The Chief Whip remains unshaken and unintimidated by Mr Motsoeneng’s spurious allegations and attempted blackmail‚ and is hopeful that a favourable judgment of the Court would dissuade Mr Motsoeneng from making similar thoughtless utterances in future.”