The DA's Mmusi Maimane gives a press briefing, after Acting Judge Hellens dismissed the ANC's appilcation. Photo: @LeloNdalo

* Article has been updated

Johannesburg - An SMS the DA sent to more than 1.5 million prospective Gauteng voters accusing President Jacob Zuma of stealing public money was fair comment, the High Court in Johannesburg ruled on Friday.

Acting Judge Mike Hellens, who heard arguments on Wednesday by the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance, dismissed the ANC's application with costs.

"The Public Protector's report [on Nkandla]... shows an unchecked or inadequately checked dipping into public funds by those responsible for the significant upgrades to the president's residence," Hellens said in his judgment.

"The use of the phrase... 'licence to loot'... comes very close to the wording 'stole' used in... the SMS.... I do not find a case has been brought by the applicant for the declaratory order sought by it."

DA Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane was mobbed by DA supporters, who cheered when they were told about the decision.

The ANC took the DA to court about SMSes in which it accused Zuma of stealing public money to build his private home at Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal.

In the SMS, the DA said: "The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change."

On Wednesday, Gcina Malindi, for the ANC, told the court the party wanted the DA to retract the SMS, stop sending it and apologise, or be fined up to R200 000. - Sapa