Bantu Holomisa, leader of the United Democratic Movement File photo / Werner Beukes
CAPE TOWN - Former deputy finance minister Jabu Moleketi’s Lebashe Investment Group is planning to sue Bantu Holomisa following a major victory yesterday, which saw the high court in Pretoria gagging the United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader from bad-mouthing the BEE company.

Moleketi told Business Report that the group wanted to sue for defamation, as the allegations Holomisa made in his open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa last month had harmed Lebashe’s commercial interests.

Moleketi said the allegations came at a time when both Lebashe and Harith General Partners were on the verge of concluding certain transactions whose pace had been slowed down.

He said the allegations were probably motivated by commercial interests, charging that the damage would be quantified in Lebashe’s court application.

“Defamation cases can take up to two years, but first we needed to stop Holomisa from pushing this defamatory agenda.”

Yesterday, the court ordered the UDM and Holomisa to immediately stop making or repeating any allegations, whether orally or in writing, against Lebashe or its directors in any form.

It also ordered him to remove any internet articles, letters, media interviews, tweets and other social media posts he had made on the group and its directors.

He should: “Within three 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),” read the court judgment in part.

The court ordered Holomisa and the UDM to pay the costs of this application on the scale as between party and party, including the costs attendant upon the employment of two counsel.

In his letter to Ramaphosa, Holomisa called for investigations into the operations of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), citing allegations of corruption, dodging of due diligence, misrepresentation, money laundering and purging of staff within the corporation.

The PIC yesterday welcomed the court ruling.

PIC head of corporate affairs Deon Botha said the repeated allegations of systemic corruption were unfortunate and lacked substance.

“Although the PIC is not a party to these legal proceedings, the PIC welcomes the high court judgment.

"This institution and its chief executive (Dr Dan Matjila) have been the subjects of a prolonged, unjustified and malicious public campaign by the UDM and its leader for what can only be described as inexplicable yet sinister motives to intentionally cause public confusion and tarnish the PIC’s reputation.

Last vanguard

“Our judicial system and the courts remain the last vanguard, where facts can be determined objectively and the PIC looks forward to studying the full judgment when it becomes available,” he said.

Holomisa said yesterday that his lawyers were working on appealing the ruling.

He said he wrote the open letter to Ramaphosa to "get the truth out" and that people were free to voice their own opinions.

“What I put in the open letter is what is already in the public domain,” Holomisa said. “The only thing different is that I took all the media reports and compiled them into one document.”

Lebashe also welcomed the court ruling.

Executive director Warren Wheatley said that while the group embraced citizens' rights to freedom of expression, these had to be exercised responsibly, as their abuse defeated the spirit of the country's constitution.

“Lebashe has a responsibility to its shareholders, employees and financial partners and will continue to focus on growing its business and delivering value to its stakeholders,” Wheatley said.

-BUSINESS REPORT