'Rogue' estate agency board chief hits hurdle in defamation case
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Cape Town - ESTATE Agency Affairs Board chief executive Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi has been ordered to submit a number of documents if she intends to proceed with a defamation case against DA MP, Emma Powell.
This after Mohlala-Mulaudzi accused Powell of defamation after the MP had tweeted Mohlala-Mulaudzi had gone “rogue” after Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s husband entered a board meeting and produced a firearm.
Mohlala-Mulaudzi had received wide coverage during her tenure as EAAB chief executive when she was "beset with controversy, discord and mismanagement," court documents read.
The tweet by Powell read: “Today, a meeting between EAAB management and Nehawu shop stewards was terminated when increasingly rogue CEO Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s husband/partner allegedly walked on to the state entity’s premises and produced a firearm.”
Powell held that her tweet was of “public benefit, was true, was fair and pertained to a matter of public interest”.
Mohlala-Mulaudzi is suing Powell for R1.5 million.
Powell, in her counter-application to the court admitted to posting the tweet but argued that it was not defamatory, and that the documents she had sought through a "notice in terms of rule 35(3) requiring further and better discovery" were to support her opposition to the application brought by Mohlala-Mulaudzi.
Mohlala-Mulaudzi contended that the minutes of the board meetings sought by Powell in her counter-application were "irrelevant".
Further to Powell’s counter-application, court documents read: “As a final alternative, a shield is put up to the effect that the tweet was reasonable because the defendant made reasonable enquiries as to the veracity of the content of the tweet and its publication was accordingly equitable in the circumstances.
“It was alleged that she was receiving two salaries from two organs of state and was doing so, unlawfully: that it was reported that certain of her staff had accused her of bullying and arbitrarily cutting their benefits."
High court Judge Derek Wille in his judgment said in his view the requested board minutes were most likely to contain information relevant to any allegations of misconduct and mismanagement which had surfaced against the plaintiff.
“Thus, these are very relevant to the defences raised by the defendant,” Judge Wille added.
Mohlala-Mulaudzi has been ordered, within 10 days from the judgment on March 26, tp submit documents for inspection which include the minutes of every meeting of the board of directors of the EAAB of South Africa since her appointment as Chief executive as well as salary slips or proof of payment paid to Mohlala-Mulaudzi received from the SABC during her tenure as chief executive of the EAAB.”
Mohlala-Mulaudzi was also ordered to submit all written complaints from EAAB board members and employees including specific complaints by Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw and Tumisho Motsepe relating to Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s performance or conduct as the chief executive.
If Mohlala-Mulaudzi fails to comply with any of the orders Powell is then authorised to apply for an order dismissing Mohlala-Mulaudzi’s claim against her, together with the appropriate order for costs.
Approached for comment, Powell said the matter was "sub-judice" and could not comment further.
Mohlala-Mulaudzi had not responded to enquiries at by the time of publication.