The Western Cape High Court has ordered the former Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Mmusi Maimane, to pay R475 000 in damages to four plaintiffs in a defamation case against him
The plaintiffs were former members of the municipal council in the City of Cape Town.
They had instituted action against Maimane for the statements he made in a publication in October 2018 that they left because a law firm had recommended in its report that criminal charges be laid against the then-outgoing Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille for alleged corruption.
In March this year, before the trial started – Maimane apologised, retracted the statement and offered to pay the plaintiffs R35 000 each.
However, they rejected the offer and instead claimed amounts ranging from R200 000 to R350 000.
According to the judgment, Maimane made a public statement that the resignations of the plaintiffs in October 2018 were not surprising – alleging that the plaintiffs were “implicated in a report regarding the cover up of corruption in the City”.
Maimane added that the four must be investigated. The judgment notes that the statements were defamatory and widely published.
The High Court also found that the defamation had far-reaching effects upon the plaintiffs’ professional and personal lives.
The court was also of the view that the amount of R35 000 tendered by Maimane was too low.
As a result, the four plaintiffs were awarded damages ranging from R100 000 to R135 000 each.