Following the High Court’s recent judgement in a dispute between amaBhungane and the Moti Group, which ruled in the publication’s favour, the Group said it had noted the judgement which was just the first round of an ongoing legal process.
In a statement, the group said, “The Moti Group has studied the judgement and firmly believes that a factual finding was not made on amaBhungane’s possession of stolen documents. The organisation is now considering its legal options going forward, including an approach to the Constitutional Court, as this matter relates to the constitutional right to privacy.”
“We still believe strongly that it is unlawful for any media house to publish and make use of stolen documents,” Dondo Mogajane, the CEO of the Moti Group said.
“There is no hierarchy of rights under the Constitution, and while I sincerely appreciate and support the freedom of the press, I do not believe that this can come at the expense of any person or entity’s constitutional right to privacy,” he further said.
“The facts of our specific case are unique, and we strongly believe that the legal issues at play deserve further consideration out of a matter of principle.”
There is still a criminal matter pending regarding the theft of the documents, and the Moti Group said, it will cooperate fully with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to see the matter through to finality.
“Notably, the ex parte application was launched in response to amaBhungane’s confirmation that its journalists were not in possession of the stolen documents, only then to attach the stolen documents to their articles. As a result, the High Court then granted the interdict against amaBhungane.
“ The Moti Group is taking the issue of reputational damage very seriously, and is determined not to allow amaBhungane’s journalists to abuse their position as press to advance a specific narrative. The organisation had therefore filed a complaint with the Press Ombudsman in June, and will potentially pursue other legal avenues,” the group stated.
The dispute emanated from AmaBhungane’s publication of a series of articles on Zunaid Moti’s efforts to ingratiate himself with Zimbabwe's political elites, and suspicious financial flows via the Moti Group's operations in Zimbabwe, as well as a secret loan to an Investec employee tasked with limiting the bank's exposure to the Moti Group's ballooning debt.