Busi hits back at ‘Gutter Maverick’

Published Dec 28, 2023


Former public protector, now EFF MP, Busisiwe Mkhwebane has demanded that online publication “Daily Maverick” pay R5 million for damages caused after publishing an “injurious” and “malicious” article attacking her.

Mkhwebane has also demanded that the publication apologise and take down the “defamatory” article or face the courts.

In the controversial article, published on Christmas Eve, “Daily Maverick’s” Marianne Thamm headlined the piece: “Kant of the Year: Busisiwe Mkhwebane comes back to rock Parliament with her EFF studs”.

The article, which raised eyebrows and sparked outrage among media personalities, was published under the “People of the year” banner.

In the letter of demand, seen by Independent Media and written through EFF heavyweight and attorney Godrich Gardee of Gardee Godrich Attorneys, Mkhwebane demands that the publication respond within 24 hours after being delivered on Boxing Day, December 26.

Speaking to Independent media on Wednesday afternoon, Gardee confirmed that they had written the letter to “Daily Maverick” but had not yet received any response from them.

“We have not received an acknowledgement of receipt from them. So we are still waiting,” said Gardee.

When the publication reached out to one of “Daily Maverick’s” editors, Janet Heard, she referred questions to the news desk email address which had not responded at the time of going to print.

The letter attacked the word “kant” as frequently used to derogate, humiliate, insult and impair the dignity and integrity of a person, in this case Mkhwebane.

It further demanded that for compensation for harm caused, “Daily Maverick” pay R5m to a non-profit organisation which works against gender-based violence.

The letter reads in part: “The referral to her as a ‘Kant’ is a disingenuous innuendo referring to her as a (women’s private part) … (the women’s private part) is frequently used to derogate, humiliate, insult and impair the dignity and integrity of a person.

“The media house and its journalist (Thamm) maliciously referred to her as such unprovoked and as such, the media house is vicariously liable jointly and severally with the journalist in its employ.

“Your conduct is unprecedented insensitive in the midst of appalling gender-based violence besieging the country, and for that matter, your journalist to refer to her as a private part of a woman, a woman that she, the journalist, is … the headline was too low, unwarranted and better less intrusive or demeaning word or words could have been used than crude insulting cruelty and is a breach of her privacy and bodily integrity, human rights provided for in sections 12(2) and 14 of the Constitution.”

The letter further read that Mkhwebane was a married family woman with children who were at risk of being bullied and ridiculed as a result of the “malicious” headline.

“In publishing these offensive headlines, you intended to humiliate our client, defame and tarnish her good name and reputation. Furthermore, it was your deliberate intention to impugn our client’s dignity and integrity,” the letter added.

“Failure to comply with the above, our instructions in paragraph, it is our instruction to commence legal proceedings against you without any further notice and such proceedings to include but not limited to the court or an appropriate tribunal,” the letter read.

The article got tongues wagging among media personalities rebuking it on social media platforms.

Radio presenter and film-maker Khanyi Magubane wrote on social media: “@SAEditorsForum is this your approved level of journalism? This is beyond disgusting. Definitely worth filing a complaint to the Press Council/Press Ombudsman @PressCouncil_SA. This is blatant abuse of Media Freedom. It is irrelevant who the slur is directed towards but the fact that it managed to get the editors’ approval and a social media upload is beyond shocking.”

Journalist Chriselda Lewis asked: “What is a kant nina? What level of journalism is this? Kwewu it is this type of nonsense that widens the gap of mistrust between media and the communities. Yini le Nina? (what is this?)”

Radio presenter Kgomotso Moeketsi wrote: “Low Daily Maverick. Low low low.”

The Star

[email protected]