resort owner sues minister

A Hoedspruit, Limpopo, man who is embroiled in a burial dispute with former farmworkers, has lodged a R1 million defamation suit against the deputy minister of environmental affairs, claiming she called him a racist.

A Hoedspruit, Limpopo, man who is embroiled in a burial dispute with former farmworkers, has lodged a R1 million defamation suit against the deputy minister of environmental affairs, claiming she called him a racist.

On April 14 the minister, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, called for a tourism boycott of Johannes Wessels' wildlife estate because he did not want to allow the burial of Senios Mokoena on his land a month ago.

The family had said that Mokoena was born on the farm in 1936. They had also instituted a claim on a section of the land, so they could not understand why they were not allowed to proceed.

After becoming involved, Mabudafhasi issued a statement calling for the boycott, and said: "Those who still have an apartheid mentality of humiliating poor people must be stopped from doing so."

A few days after this, her office received the notice of the defamation claim.

"We received the notice for intended legal proceedings against deputy minister Mabudafhasi from Mr Wessels' lawyers with shock and disappointment," her office said.

Livhuwani Matsila, head of her office, said Wessels objected to the allegation that he was racist.

The department will oppose the claim.

Meanwhile, Mokoena's body is still in a mortuary awaiting finalisation of his burial arrangements.

Wessels' lawyer was not immediately available for comment. - Sapa

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