Holomisa faces the sheriff as he fails to pay legal fees in Lebashe costs matter

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa is battling to pay R1m in legal fees. File photo.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa is battling to pay R1m in legal fees. File photo.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa has missed his initial deadlines to pay a costs order of R1m relating to the 2018 defamation case he lost to Lebashe Investment Group. The R1m excludes the high court fees which are yet to be tallied and taxed.

In its damning judgment against Holomisa and the UDM in September, the Constitutional Court noted that Holomisa circulated harmful information without establishing its veracity.

“They did not even make a feeble attempt to ascertain the truth of the allegations before publishing the defamatory material, notwithstanding that they had asked the president to inquire into the allegations,” said acting justice Mjabuliseni Madondo in a unanimous judgment.

The Constitutional Court had also ordered that Holomisa should pay costs to Lebashe and the deadline was set for last Saturday (April 15) but moved to Monday on Holomisa's request. When he again failed to meet this deadline, he proposed a payment plan in terms of which he would settle the costs in instalments. 

This request was rejected by Lebashe, which gave him until Friday April 20 to pay or face the sheriff. 

Lebashe spokesperson Thulasizwe Simelane could only confirm Holomisa's nonpayment but refused to say further: “I can confirm that he has not yet paid. Other than that, I can't say,” said Simelane.

When approached for say, Holomisa said he had made a commitment to pay the fees, “unfortunately we don’t sell fat cooks (sic),” implying he doesn't have readily available cash.

Holomisa forwarded an email from his lawyer, Eric Mabuza, showing he has so far paid R100,000. “In addition, our client proposes to make payment in the sum of R200,000 on or before the end of June 2023. An additional R200,000 on or before the end of September 2023 and the balance to be paid on or before the end of December 2023,” reads a note from Matthews Yeko of Mabuza attorneys.

Holomisa's email trail includes an email from Megan Roos, who writes that Holomisa and the UDM's properties could be attached by the sheriff. 

This saga started when Holomisa sent a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa in June 2018 containing allegations that Lebashe and its directors had conducted themselves unlawfully in various ways in relation to the Public Investment Corporation.

He said “possible corruption” at the PIC could make alleged “state capture” graft “look like chump change”. Holomisa requested an investigation into the allegations. The damning letter was also published on the UDM's website. 

Lebashe and its directors contended the remarks were devoid of truth and were defamatory. Lebashe, Harith General Partners, Harith Fund Managers, director of Lebashe Warren Wheatley, chair of Lebashe Tshepo Mahloele and nonexecutive director of Lebashe Jabulani Moleketi had approached the high court in Johannesburg for an interdict restraining the UDM and Holomisa from making or repeating any allegations defaming or injuring their dignity.

They sought interim relief in the high court pending an action for damages for the alleged defamation. The high court granted them an interim interdict pending the determination of an action for damages for defamation.

The high court ordered Holomisa to cease and desist from defaming or injuring the respondents’ dignity, and to remove and delete the letter from the UDM’s website and from Holomisa’s Twitter account.


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