Johannesburg - An SMS sent by the DA saying President Jacob Zuma stole public funds to build his Nkandla home inflamed feelings about his character, the High Court in Johannesburg heard on Wednesday.
“The DA is making a statement of fact and not opinion on the character of the president,” Gcina Malindi SC, for the ANC said.
“The DA could never have believed the assertion to be true.”
The African National Congress was arguing that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela never said in her report, titled “Secure in Comfort”, that Zuma stole taxpayers' money.
The ANC has lodged an urgent application in the high court against the DA over the text message. It wanted the Democratic Alliance to retract the SMS, stop sending it and apologise to the ruling party or be fined up to R200 000.
The party was arguing the SMS contravened the Electoral Act and the Electoral Code of Conduct.
Malindi said the ANC's objection was meant to enhance the promotion of fair elections.
“(The message) could heighten the volatile atmosphere in the elections. If this is allowed to persist we all (know) what it will lead to,” Malindi said.
He pointed out that there had been relatively peaceful elections since 1994.
The text message, which DA Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane said was sent to 1.6m prospective voters in Gauteng, read:
“The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change.”
Acting High Court Judge Mike Hellens asked whether he could make such an order if he was sitting as an electoral court. It was still being decided whether he was sitting as an electoral court, a high court, or both.