Documents pivotal in Estates Board CEO’s R1.5 million libel suit over a tweet
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Cape Town - A R1.5 million defamation suit between Estate Agency Affairs Board of South Africa (EAAB) chief executive Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi and DA MP Emma Powell over a tweet, now hinges on documents from a separate defamation case involving Mohlala-Mulaudzi.
Mohlala-Mulaudzi has sued Powell for defamation, alleging that the MP posted a tweet to the effect that the estate agency board chief executive had gone rogue.
The claim is for 1.5 million in damages. Powell admits to posting the tweet but denies that it was defamatory.
The tweet in question read: “Today, a meeting between EAAB management and Nehawu shop stewards was terminated when increasingly rogue CEO Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s husband/partner allegedly walked onto state-entity’s premises and produced a firearm.”
Powell told the court that the tweet was the truth and was in the public benefit.
The documents Judge Derek Wille demanded are from complaints made about Mohlala-Mulaudzi and court papers in another defamation case she had brought against board member Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw, and include the minutes of every meeting of the EAAB board of directors since Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s appointment as chief executive.
Other documents requested are all written complaints from EAAB directors, employees and others affiliated with the board of directors relating to Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s performance or conduct as chief executive.
These include the complaint, submitted by Kula-Ameyaw in October to Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu; all salary slips or proof of payment of board fees or any other fees paid to Mohlala-Mulaudzi by the SABC during the time she has been CEO of the EAAB; and all court papers pertaining to Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s defamation case against Kula-Ameyaw.
Powell claims the documents sought are relevant to her defence, because “there was a considerable amount of coverage about the plaintiff’s tenure as the CEO of the EAAB, which was allegedly beset with controversy, discord and mismanagement”.
According to Powell, some of this coverage included a report that Mohlala-Mulaudzi was receiving board fees for sitting on the board of the SABC, while she was a paid employee of the government, which meant that in effect she was receiving two salaries from two organs of state illegally.
There had also been reports that some members of Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s staff had accused her of bullying and arbitrarily cutting their benefits and that Kula-Ameyaw had written to Minister Sisulu, complaining about Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s alleged governance violations.
Powell’s defence claims that some of the SABC’s senior executives had threatened to resign over the alleged interference in their own board, because of Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s actions, specifically in connection with an alleged demand for an interview on one of the SABC’s flagship news programmes.
Judge Wille gave Mohlala-Mulaudzi 10 days to hand over the documents requested by Powell or else Powell will be able to apply for the dismissal of Mohlala-Mulaudzi's defamation claim.