Trevor Manuel lawsuit: EFF has R500k damages reduced
Johannesburg - The Economic Freedom Fighters successfully appealed the North Gauteng High Court’s order to pay R500 000 in damages to Trevor Manuel after two judges of the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) ruled that the award of damages had been unjustifiably high.
The ruling was handed down on Thursday by SCA judges Mahomed Navsa and Malcolm Willis, who said that the order by the high court for the EFF to pay half a million rand to the former finance minister had appeared extraordinarily high and not in line with the recent general trend.
However, the judges refused the EFF leave to appeal the North Gauteng High Court’s ruling that their allegations of nepotism and corruption against Manuel were defamatory and unlawful.
Navsa and Mohamed said that the reasoning on which the award of R500 000 in damages had been sparse with little attention paid to how best to determine the extent of reputational loss.
They said that they accepted that in considering the reasoning of a trial in court in relation to quantum, one should have regard to what was said in the judgment as whole. However, in the present case, Manuel was primarily concerned with reputational harm, but had provided no details in relation to the reputational harm he had suffered.
“No details of what the court took into account relation to the extent of reputational damage, other than Mr Manuel’s limited say so is provided in the judgment,” read the judgment by SCA judges Malcolm Wallis and Mahomed Navsa.
The matter came before the court after the EFF had launched an appeal against the High Court’s ruling in relation to remarks the party had made with regards to Manuel’s role in the appointment of Edward Kiesswetter as Sars Commissioner in March 2019.
In a stinging statement rebuking the appointment, the EFF labelled Kiesswetter as a “dodgy character” and that he had ties to Manuel because they were not only related but that they were also business associates.
"The EFF objects to the nepotism involved in the corrupt process of selecting a new Sars commissioner. One of the candidates interviewed by the panel is a dodgy character called Edward Kieswetter, who isn’t just a relative of Trevor Manuel, but a close business associate.
“We are profusely opposed to the imposition of a secretly assessed candidate by conflicted individuals. We’ll do everything we can to stop and reverse the appointment of Kieswetter. The EFF will explore all legal options to invalidate any unlawful appointment of a commissioner,” the EFF statement read.
The EFF refused to apologise after Manuel’s attorneys wrote to the EFF and Ndlozi demanding that they remove the statement from their social media and apologise unconditionally to Manuel.
Manuel then took the EFF to the North Gauteng High Court suing for defamation with Judge Elias Matojane ordering that the EFF apologises to Manuel and also pay him R500 000 in damages.
EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo was not available for comment.