Johannesburg - DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille has hailed the DA’s victory in a defamation case against the ANC Youth League in the Free State which will see the young lions out of pocket for R300 000.
Zille was commenting on a judgment issued on Monday in the Free State High Court in a case bought by the DA’s Roy Jankielsohn, a member of the Free State legislature.
Jankielsohn had approached the court in earlier this year seeking a ruling after he was called a “racist”, “clown” and “irrelevant white supremacist” by the ANCYL.
The organisation name-called Jankielsohn after he had raised questions about an honourary doctorate which was awarded to former Free State premier Ace Magashule by Bahcesehir University in Turkey.
Jankielsohn said questions could be raised about the reasoning behind the university’s decision to award Magashule with a degree because the Free State government had donated R30 million to the university in 2016. That was the same year Magashule was honoured.
These questions raised the ire of the ANCYL with them issuing the name-calling statement. In issuing his ruling on Monday, Judge Johann Daffue was so scathing of the youth league’s behaviour that he slapped the organisation with an R300 000 defamation cost order.
“There is no justification for the publication of untruths. The statement was published recklessly and with indifference as to whether it was true or false. The plaintiff is labelled and even stigmatised as a racist and white supremacist and it is highly probable that some people might have been incited to cause him and/or his family harm. We experience this regularly in this country,” the judge said.
He also said the ANCYL could not use freedom of speech as justification for their actions as even freedom of speech had limits and cannot be used to damage political opponents.
Zille described the ruling as “excellent” saying that people could not throw around the “R-word” whenever they were aggrieved.
“You can’t just throw the ‘R’ word around when you have run out of arguments. With all the defamation against DA public representatives, we would be able to fund an entire election campaign with a few more defamation cases,” she said on Monday night through a tweet.