The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have been ordered to pay R500 000 in damages to former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel over a defamatory tweet in March.

The High Court in Johannesburg also gave them 24 hours to retract the statement and make an unconditional apology.

Manuel had been appointed by President Cyril Ramphosa to chair an interview panel for the top job at the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

The EFF charged that the panel was operating in secret to hide Manuel’s corruption and nepotism.

Manuel recused himself from the interview as he had worked with the candidate previously.

The EFF alleged that the two were also related, but Manuel has denied this.

The court found that the EFF acted in malice by publishing unverified statements on social media.

The statement was found to be defamation and unlawful.

Meanwhile, the EFF says they will not adhere to the court order as they will be appealing the judgment.

Deputy President Floyd Shivambu says: “For now there is no apology that is going to come to Trevor Manuel; he must forget it. Once we appeal the judgment of the court today, that judgment is set aside until an upper court comes to a different decision. So what the court said today doesn’t hold water until there’s been a different finding.”