Pupils defame paper

Khanyisile Nkosi and Thembela Khamango

Khanyisile Nkosi and Thembela Khamango

Controversial Ithuteng Trust director Jackey Maarohanye is using her court appearances to wage a personal war against Sowetan and its staff.

At her appearance in the Protea magistrates' court yesterday, more than 400 pupils from her school, and a handful of their elders, gathered outside court with placards insulting Sowetan editor-in-chief Thabo Leshilo and his staff.

Pupils as young as nine picketed outside the court holding placards with derogatory remarks about Leshilo, news editor Willie Bokala and specialist writer Themba Molefe.

Jabu Ndhlovu, a lawyer representing one of Maarohanye's co-accused charged with assaulting and kidnapping a Sowetan reporter, said he was unaware of the defamatory remarks on the placards.

Dressed in full school uniform, the pupils carried printed placards that read: "Thabo Leshilo - A Beast!! is what you see every night when jumping into bed!!", "Themba Molefe, Go and stretch your twisted muscles before calling Mama Jackey a Rogue. Your bloodstream shows roguery behaviour!!!", "Themba Molefe, who was your Psychology teacher . Willie Bokala??? Slightly Worse!! Did you major in Fables??? This is worse than BANTU Education!!!".

One hack noted that whoever wrote down the messages clearly had not paid much attention in English classes.

The jibes were apparently sparked by reports Sowetan had published on the behaviour of Maarohanye and her supporters since the start of her court appearances.

Many of the pupils were clearly unaware of the defamatory messages on the placards they were carrying.

A fleet of 16 taxis and two buses ferried the pupils to the court. They formed a guard of honour for Maarohanye as she made her entrance dressed in her favourite checked winter suit.

Maarohanye was welcomed by blaring vuvuzelas, drum beats and cheering from her supporters as she emerged from court.

Among the camp's followers were a group of sangomas carrying whips and fly-whisks - ishoba. They danced around Maarohanye's BMW and splashed it with a liquid before she was whisked away.

Maarohanye later passed the Sowetan team on Old Potchefstroom Road. On seeing Vusi Ndlovu, the complainant in her assault and kidnapping case, Maarohanye sneered. She then sped away as she flashed a threatening sign signifying a handgun.