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Media24 made defamatory, unlawful statements against EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi over 2021 rape story

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi was defamed by Media24 who made unlawful and defamatory statements against him, the Joburg High Court has found. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi was defamed by Media24 who made unlawful and defamatory statements against him, the Joburg High Court has found. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Sep 19, 2023


Media24’s Daily Sun publication has been ordered to remove unlawful and defamatory statements accusing Economic Freedom Fighters’ MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of rape.

The statements were made in an article published by the Daily Sun publication in April 2021.

The publication has been ordered to apologise and remove the statements from all of its media and social media platforms within seven days.

The ruling was made by Judge SDJ Wilson in the Gauteng South High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning.

Daily Sun journalist Amos Manayetso had published the story on April 11, 2021, after he received a tip-off from a SA Police Service (SAPS) source who also provided him with a case number about a rape complaint against Ndlozi.

"The source told Mr Manayetso that, in the complaint, a woman had said that Dr Ndlozi raped her. SAPS had opened a case of rape, and the confidential source supplied Mr Manayetso with the case number allocated to the complaint.

"The source also supplied Mr Manayetso with a number of further details, culled from the woman’s statement, that appeared in a story published in the Daily Sun," said the judge.

Ndlozi had been contacted for comment, and he shared with the journalist that he was in solidarity with the victim but that he could not be the alleged rapist as he was not in the vicinity of where the alleged crime took place. He told the journalist he had CCTV footage to demonstrate this.

The publication sought comment from the SAPS communications department, but none was forthcoming. They published the story without a police comment, but on the following day, a SAPS spokesperson, Brigadier Mathaphelo Peters, confirmed through a media statement that there was a rape case opened, but Ndlozi was not the suspect.

Judge Wilson said the defamation case between Ndlozi and Media24 was hinged on whether the statements made to the Daily Sun publication by the SAPS source were defamatory.

The statements were: "Mbuyiseni Ndlozi raped me", which was a street poster also shared on social media. The second statement was the news report itself, in which the Daily Sun purported to rely on the victim statement, but actually relied on the SAPS source for information. It was established in court that the Daily Sun was never in possession of the victim's statement.

The third statement was written by the editor, Mapula Nkosi, in which the Daily Sun said, "We stand by our story" despite a police statement clarifying that Ndlozi was not a suspect.

"Two out of three of the statements defamed Dr Ndlozi; and third, that the two defamatory statements were substantially true, but that their publication, on the facts of this case, was not for the public benefit.

"These conclusions compel me to find that the respondents have unlawfully defamed Dr Ndlozi, and that he is entitled to a declaration that this is so.

"He is also entitled to an order that the two defamatory statements be removed from Media24’s online media platforms. Any further relief to which he may be entitled is a matter that should either be agreed between the parties, or on which oral evidence should be led," Judge Wilson ordered.

Dr Ndlozi has sought R120,000 in damages, but the court has yet to rule on this.

Judge Wilson said Dr Ndlozi’s notice of motion is to be determined by reference to oral evidence at a yet-to-be determined date.

"The affidavits presently filed and their annexures will stand as the pleadings and discovery. Further discovery may be agreed between the parties or authorised by Judge Wilson on application brought by either party on reasonable notice to the other," he said in his order.

Media24 was ordered to pay costs.

"Their defence, while ultimately unsuccessful, was far from frivolous. Since it is plain that Ms Nkosi and Mr Manayetso have acted throughout as employees of Media24, and with its full support, it is appropriate that Media24 bear the costs of the application alone, which would probably have been the effect of a joint and several costs order in any event," said Judge Wilson in his costs order.