Pretoria – Premier of Mpumalanga, David Mabuza, on Friday lost his R10-million defamation lawsuit against former ANC treasurer-general Dr Mathews Phosa.
Gauteng High Court, Pretoria Judge Bill Prinsloo not only dismissed the claim, but he also slapped Mabuza with a punitive costs order.
Mabuza claimed Phosa defamed him in a spy report, which was published in the media, when he was already the premier of Mpumalanga.
He claimed Phosa was the author of the report in which the premier was made out to be an apartheid spy. It contained claims that Mabuza was involved in the murder of former ANC activist Portia Shabangu.
She was assassinated in the 80’s by controversial head of Vlakplaas, Eugene de Kock.
Phosa earlier testified that he never compiled the so-called spy report. He said an unmarked envelope was found on the veranda of his White
River farmhouse. Inside the envelope was a document which later became known as the so-called spy report.
“I was shocked by its content and worried about it, as it referred to the premier. The allegations were so serious that I decided to hand it over to the ANC top structures. If the allegations were true, the report could harm the ANC leadership. Only a traitor of the ANC would hide it from them.”
Phosa said he forwarded the report to ANC secretary-general Jessie Duarte, as before this she had visited him to discuss party issues.
At the end of the meeting Duarte, out of the blue, asked him “who is this David Mabuza”, he said.
“When I held office as Premier of Mpumalanga, I appointed Mabuza as education MEC and he served under me as part of my executive cabinet.”
After this Phosa did not hear anything until a reporter phoned and asked him whether he knew that Mabuza was going to sue him.
Phosa denied that he had anything to do with the report and said his former butler, Jan Venter – who is at the centre of this dispute – lied when he implicated him (Phosa).
Venter testified that he overheard Phosa “concocting” the spy allegations against Mabuza. But the controversial butler twice switched sides.
Judge Prinsloo on Friday said he could not find that Phosa was the author of the document . ‘I find nothing improbable about the manner in which, on his evidence, he came into possession of the document...If he (Phosa) did not create the report, there also could not have been any question of the required malice accompanying such creation,” the judge said.
Mabuza during the trial which was heard about a year ago, told the court that while he claimed R10-million from Phosa, he would settle for R1-million with a public apology.
He also demanded that Phosa then had to pay the legal bill on a punitive scale.This was turned down at the time.