Zuma defamation claim 'largest in SA history'

Time of article published Jul 4, 2006

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Jacob Zuma's defamation claim against the media has risen to R63-million after a Johannesburg radio station "further insulted" him, the Witness reported on Tuesday.

Its website said this appeared to be the largest claim by an individual for defamation in South Africa's legal history.

Read the full breakdown of the action being taken against Independent Newspapers.

The former deputy president is suing media owners, publishers, editors, reporters, cartoonists and newspapers.

One of the claims against a newspaper concerns "layout foul play".

Broadcaster 94.7 Highveld Stereo was initially to be sued for R5-million for broadcasting a song called My Name Is Zuma, commenting on the Zuma rape trial.

It was played by Darren "Whackhead" Simpson, a member of the radio station's Rude Awakening (RAW) team.

A statement by Zuma's legal team said this song was broadcast twice in April and May this year.

When the RAW team played this song again on Monday morning after hearing about the slander charge against them, Zuma decided to increase the claim against Highveld Stereo to R7-million.

"During the programme they mimicked a trial between themselves and Zuma. The Highveld Stereo presenter, Jeremy Mansfield, ruled at the end of the 'trial' that the accused was not guilty," claimed the statement by Zuma's legal team.

After this, Zuma informed his legal team he wanted the claim to be increased.

"It is unacceptable that someone can show such contempt for our legal system by aping a court sitting and pre-empting a judgment, and in this way just insulting me further," Zuma said in the statement.

Zuma will apparently be in Europe until Thursday.

His biggest claim against one publication was the claim of altogether R20-million against the Star.

This claim consisted of four different claims of R5-million each, three of which are against award-winning cartoonist Zapiro.

The fourth was for an article accompanied by a manipulated photograph of Zuma.

The second-biggest claim R10-million was against the Afrikaans Sunday paper, Rapport, while the Sunday Times had been hit with R6-million claim.

The newspapers the Citizen, Sunday Sun, Sunday Independent and Sunday World are being sued for R5-million each. Nearly all the items in which Zuma felt he was defamed were opinions or cartoons.

Zuma has appointed former Conservative Party MP advocate Jurg Prinsloo and Johannesburg attorney Wycliffe Mothuloe to fight his "crucifixion by the media" and investigate possible defamation claims.

A footnote in the press releases Zuma issued on Monday states "members of the defamation legal team will not have contact with the media at this stage".

All inquiries were referred to an email address and answered by someone in the "office of Mr Jacob Zuma".

This office said the organisations against which claims had been instituted had 14 days to pay the claimed amount to Zuma.

If this did not happen, they would receive a summons to appear in court. - Sapa and IOL

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