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Court lifts protection order against David Mabuza

Deputy President David Mabuza.
Deputy President David Mabuza.
Image: Masi Losi

An interim protection order against deputy president David Mabuza has been withdrawn‚ with a court labeling his accuser a fabricator.

The Carolina Regional Court on Monday dismissed an application by businessman Fred Daniels to have an interim protection order‚ which he obtained in February‚ made permanent.

It was the second blow of the day for Daniels after Magistrate Sarel Grabe refused to recuse himself from the matter.

In an earlier application in June‚ Daniels applied for Grabe to recuse himself over his perceived bias in the matter after he was spotted talking to Mabuza's lawyer‚ Advocate Mike Hellens‚ in a corridor outside the courtroom and in his chambers.

Grabe‚ before delivering his judgment‚ said the two had bumped into each other while on a toilet break and that there was nothing sinister behind it. The second meeting‚ said Grabe‚ occurred while they waited a few minutes for Daniels's lawyer so they could discuss a court postponement date.

Daniels has been involved in a decades-long dispute with the former Mpumalanga premier‚ who he claims threatened his life.

He believes Mabuza is behind a smear and sabotage campaign against him because of a multi-billion rand land claims scam‚ which he blew the whistle on in 2004.

Daniel claims the scam‚ which allegedly had the blessing of Mabuza when he was Mpumalanga's MEC for Land and Agriculture‚ involved landowners being forced to sell at below market value‚ before the land was sold back to community trusts at inflated prices.

Grabe‚ in his judgment‚ said Daniels had asserted that Mabuza had waged a war against him and had "assassinated his character".

"In terms of a protection order full disclosures have to be made by the applicants. In this current matter Daniels withheld two Lever Arch files of information. Daniels stated that there were unlawful raids on his property by the MPTA [Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Authority]. He portrayed himself as an innocent victim who was doing his utmost to operate [his business] lawfully."

But‚ said Grabe‚ information had been withheld from the original magistrate who had granted the interim protection order. "That information was how the MTPA had raided his property because of game he was keeping on his property without the necessary permits."

He said the Authority had been exercising its mandate when it carried out the raids.

"Daniels clearly misled the court when he said he wanted to operate legally and had been trying to obtain permits."

Grabe questioned Daniels's reasoning for obtaining other interim protection orders against other Mpumalanga government officials and said he had used them as tools and mechanisms to achieve certain goals.

"It is clear that Daniels has a modus operandi of abusing the law to continue with illegal activities [illegally breeding wildlife without permits].

"The complaints that he fears for his and his family's lives are unfounded. Daniel has ulterior motives other than blowing the whistle on corruption and this [interim] protection order is too wide and should not be granted."

Daniels slammed the judgment and said Grabe had been selective when he looked at the evidence.

"He was accused of bias‚ but chose‚ instead of recusing himself‚ to force his judgment‚ which is based on assumptions‚ down on us. We will definitely appeal this and the magistrate's decision not to recuse himself."

Daniels currently has a R2.5-billion law suit in the North Gauteng High Court against Mabuza and officials in several Mpumalanga government departments‚ including the MTPA.

The law suit involves the loss of business because the province refused to grant him permits to operate a luxury nature reserve‚ marketed as the gateway to one of South Africa's most pristine biodiversity areas located between Barberton and Bapsfontein.

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