‘I won’t say sorry to Zille’

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INLSA

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille

Leila Samodien

Justice Writer

A KHAYELITSHA councillor is holding out against Premier Helen Zille in her defamation clash against him, the ANC Youth League, Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu.

In what was made an order of the Western Cape High Court yesterday, the youth league, its former president Malema, and its suspended spokesman Shivambu settled the matter with Zille, retracted their remarks and formally apologised to her.

But the case’s fourth defendant, councillor Andile Lili, said that he will “never apologise” for his comments.

He is continuing his defence against Zille’s lawsuit and is considering laying a counter-claim of defamation against her.

This was confirmed by Lili and his attorneys, Xulu Liversage Incorporated, yesterday.

“What I said in front of Helen Zille was (the) truth. It is an honest truth that Helen Zille is a racist. I will never apologise for that, even if I have to suffer the consequences,” Lili told the Cape Times.

He vowed that if it was necessary, he would take the case all the way to the highest court possible, “even if it means I have to be bankrupt at the end”.

Lili, the youth league’s former treasurer in the Dullah Omar region, is accused of telling a newspaper in January, 2010: “Zille is a racist. Helen Zille during apartheid was not there. She never fought to liberate us and today she claims to be the champion of democracy. She wants to make sure the apartheid regime government is back.”

He maintains, however, that his comments were not intended to insult her.

Zille alleged in her court papers that during 2009 a number of defamatory statements were made about her, some of which were published on the youth league’s website.

Malema called her a “racist little girl”, while Shivambu referred to her all-male cabinet as “her boyfriends and concubines so that she can continue to sleep around with them”.

Zille lodged the lawsuit on May 7, 2010, asking the court for R350 000 in damages from each of the four defendants – a total of R1.4 million.

On the same day, she brought a separate defamation action against Malema – in addition to the other application – in which she sought a further R400 000 in damages.

This related to comments Malema made to the press in March, 2010, stating that Zille was “suffering from Satanism”, as well as referring to the province as the “apartheid regime of the Western Cape” under her premiership.

Less than two months ago, the defendants filed court papers at the high court in their defence against the claim, just hours before the deadline.

The youth league, Malema and Shivambu have now settled the matter with Zille and the agreement has been made a court order by Judge Lee Bozalek.

In terms of the order, which they signed, it has been recorded that they “recognise the offence taken and harm caused to (Zille) and unreservedly apologise” for the defamatory remarks.

They also “unequivocally” retracted their statements and agreed to jointly pay Zille’s legal costs.

Zille welcomed the court order, saying the court action “was never about the damages”.

“I have the court order and their apology, which is what this was essentially about,” she said.

Zille acknowledged, however, that Lili was not a part of the settlement.

“It’s a very important precedent. The court has found that racial insults are defamatory,” she said. “I trust it will address the issue in politics of racial insults masquerading as political debate.”

Malema could not be reached for comment last night.

leila.samodien@inl.co.za


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