Shivambu in court for defamation
ANC Youth League spin doctor Floyd Shivambu is facing an uphill battle for allegedly calling a local journalist a drunkard.
But his lawyer, Advocate Dali Mpofu, believes journalists drink more than politicians.
"Journalists probably drink a lot of whisky more than politicians," Mpofu said in defence of Shivambu.
Yesterday, Shivambu appeared at the Johannesburg high court to answer a case of defamation and injuring Saturday Star's news editor Kashiefa Ajam's dignity.
She has slapped him with a R350,000 claim and her employer, the Independent Newspapers, had lodged a R300,000 claim for damaging its reputation.
The lawsuit came after a media statement issued by Shivambu in January last year following the publication of Ajam's front-page story in the Saturday Star that an up-market whisky supplier, Chivas Regal, had approached the league to become their supplier of choice.
He sent out a media statement saying: "The sick and confused Saturday Star's journalist who wrote the story did not even call the ANCYL to verify the truthfulness of such a claim, yet (she) went ahead to write a story that implicates our organisation.
"If there is anyone who has a close partnership with the Chivas Regal, it is the drunkard journalist, Kashiefa Ajam, and the editorial team of the Saturday Star, who consume lots of alcohol and forget to contact the ANCYL when lies are spread about our organisation."
Mpofu argued before Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng that Ajam's particulars of claim did not disclose a cause of action.
He said that it was undesirable for a journalist and a newspaper group to sue a private citizen in respect of matters arising from a news story, and also undesirable to sue citizens for defamation for statements made in the context of political debate.
Mpofu said at the time the statement was made, Shivambu was not aware that Ajam was a practising member of Islamic faith.
Advocate Kate Hofmeyer argued that courts had accepted that ordinary citizens may be sued for defamation and have rejected the contention that actual malice ought to be an element of the delict of defamation. Judgment was reserved.
Shivambu has a pending matter at the Johannesburg equality court for allegedly referring to Independent Newspapers' senior political correspondent, Carien du Plessis, as a "white bitch" in 2009.
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