The court found that the fact that Manuel and Kieswetter had an employment association “many years ago” does not prove bias on the part of Manuel and that his disclosure of this as well as recusal shows he avoided conflict of interest.
The court also found that the EFF’s assertion that the selection process was secretive was not true.
“The process was open and transparent, even if the interviews themselves were not public,” read the judgment.
The court said it believed that the EFF, its spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and its president Julius Malema, had a clear intention of hurting Manuel’s public image after refusing to retract their statement and therefore believes the amount requested should be paid.
“The motive and conduct of the respondents are relevant. They stubbornly refuse to retract, apologise or remove the impugned statement from their social media platforms, when it is evident that they should do so.
“These factors collectively establish the existence of actual malice and a desire to hurt Mr Manuel in his person and professionally, through the widespread dissemination of the defamatory statement. Such conduct warrants a punitive costs order,” the judgment read.
EFF has indicated its plans to appeal the judgment "related to our correct observation, which Manuel does not dispute, that he was conflicted in interviewing Edward Kieswetter because they are friends".