Former Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Thembinkosi Rawula – who alleged that party leader Julius Malema confessed to getting money from the looted VBS bank – has been cleared of defamation charges.
The Supreme Court of Appeal on Wednesday said it agreed with the high court that Rawula did not defame Malema or his deputy Floyd Shivambo.
“The Supreme Court today dismissed the appeal against the high court order,” the court said in a statement announcing its ruling.
Initially, Malema asked the high court in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, to interdict Rawula from making further statements.
The EFF leader, who denies receiving VBS money, also demanded one million rand from Rawula for defamation of character.
The high court threw the matter out and refused to interdict Rawula. Undeterred, Malema appealed to the Supreme Court.
When the matter was heard before the Supreme Court Malema had argued through his lawyer, advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, that Rawula failed to produce any evidence to back up his allegations.
Malema said the unsubstantiated allegations unfairly tainted him and his deputy, which was tantamount to defamation of character.
In a minority judgment by Rogers AJA, the Supreme Court found that Malema failed to show that Rawula acted unlawfully by publishing statements saying the leader of the EFF was “undemocratic and unlawful”.
However, the minority judgment held that Rawula “did not put up admissable evidence in support of his allegations that the appellant was corrupt, stole money, or was of base moral character”.
The court added: “There was no evidence that when the appellant received the money from VBS it was the subject of scandal or known to be fleecing its depositors”.
Malema had already withdrawn the defamation claim of one million during the last court hearing.