Holomisa gets an expensive lesson in the cost of propagating fake news

By Alec Hogg

Back in the days when shareholders paid me to care about such things, I twice crossed swords with newspaper editors who published damaging fake news about my company. Despite pointing out their reports were devoid of any truth, the editors refused to recant, simply stating that “we stand by the story.”

So seeing financial services entrepreneur Tshepo Mahloele get an unfair public roasting from UDM leader Bantu Holomisa evoked a measure of empathy. Especially after interviewing the $1bn Harith Fund’s creator last week when he addressed allegations of being the kingpin in industrial scale corruption.

Just like those newspaper editors, even after the truth was pointed out to him, Holomisa chose to pour petrol onto the fire by ridiculing a demand he retract the defamation and even calling Mahloele a hyena. The outspoken politician then repeated his allegations in a radio interview, stating he would not back down.

Mahloele and his fellow accused approached the High Court for relief and got it yesterday. Mr Justice Tlhapi ruled that apart from having to withdraw his allegations, Holomisa must also pay for all the legal costs, including the fees for Mahloele’s two counsel. Nice to see SA’s legal system working. And that propagating fake news can be an expensive exercise.


In the High Court of South Africa

Gauteng Division, Pretoria

Case number: 46074/2018

Before the Honourable Judge Tlhapi

Pretoria, 16 July 2018

In the matter between:

LEBASHE INVESTMENT GROUP (PTY) LIMITED: First Applicant

HARITH GENERAL PARTNERS (PTY) LIMITED: Second Applicant

HARITH FUND MANAGERS (PTY) LTD: Third Applicant

WHEATLEY, WARREN GREGORY: Fourth Applicant

MAHLOELE, TSHEPO DAUN: Fifth Applicant

MOLEKETI, PHILLIP JABULANI: Sixth Applicant

and

UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT: First Respondent

HOLOMISA, BANTU: Second Respondent

DRAFT ORDER

Having read the documents filed of record, heard counsel and considered the matter, the Court makes the following order:

  1. Pending the determination of an action to be instituted by the applicants against the respondents for damages for defamation and injuria, and relief ancillary thereto (“the action”), the respondents shall:
    1. forthwith cease and desist from making or repeating any allegations (whether orally or in writing) against the applicants (or any of them), and/or from defaming or injuring them in their dignity, in any further publications or broadcasts in any form, including but not limited to internet posts, articles, letters, media interviews, ‘Twitter’ and other social media posts and the like, which are the same as, or similar to, or which negatively reflect upon the applicants (or any of them) arising from or based on, any of the allegations or statements appearing in the letter dated 26 June 2018 addressed by the second respondent to the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr C M Ramaphosa, (a copy of which is annexed to the founding affidavit herein and marked “WGW4”, referred to herein as “the letter”);
    2. within three (3) hours of the granting of this order, remove and delete the letter and, in so far as it lies within their power, any posts regarding the letter (or any of its contents) or responses thereto, from the first respondent’s website (www.udm.org.za), from the first respondent’s Twitter account (@UDmRevolution), and from the second respondent’s Twitter account (@BantuHolomisa);
  1. Unless the applicants institute the action within one month of the date of this order, such order shall lapse and be of no further force or effect.
  2. Paragraphs 5 and 6 of the answering affidavit at page 137 of the paginated papers, and annexure “AA1” thereto at paginated pages 167 to 239, are struck out with costs on the attorney and own client scale.
  3. The respondents are ordered to pay the costs of this application on the scale as between party and party (save as provided for in paragraph 3 hereof), including the costs attendant upon the employment of two counsel. 

By the Court

Registrar