In the high court of south africa eastern cape division, grahamstown



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Fair Comment
46. The MEC is a politician. When one deals with politicians or political matters, courts have allowed fora good deal of latitude for comment. Bloem J referred to Crawford v Albu in the Holomisa case referred to above:
15
People who occupy a public position or for any other reason have been so
unfortunate as to focus upon themselves the light of public opinion must be
expected to be criticised. And more particularly must those who, however
righteous their motives, place themselves in determined opposition to society
generally or to a section of society not be surprised if they find themselves
assailed with some vehemence or even exaggeration. All this the law does not
prohibit. Free speech and freethought are part of our common inheritance. And
the law will not interfere with them. But still there are limits which must not be
transgressed. Comment to be fair must not distort or misrepresent facts
47. The MEC must be prepared for criticism and should not be treated like any other member of society. She should expect robust, even exaggerated comments to be made about her,
48. It is within this context that the photographs ought to be viewed. Drinking expensive whiskey in a country ravaged by poverty should be commented upon. Boasting that the people depicted are the administrative centre is putting them
15 1917 AD 102 at 105


- 14 - in an elite category. The respondent should be allowed to comment thereon especially since the same people in the photograph choose to share these photos on social media. The photos were taken in the ministerial home. The respondent asks whether this should be permitted. He queries whether it is appropriate. He should be permitted to do so.
49. The defence of fair comment applies equally to the respondents comments. If the reports and documents prove are true, nothing prevents the respondent from voicing his opinion.
CONCLUSION
50. We submit that the MEC has not made out a proper case for defamation and the application ought to be dismissed with costs including the costs attendant upon the employment of two counsel.
C GEORGIADES SC
N. NCAME RESPONDENTS COUNSEL
SANDTON CHAMBERS OCTOBER 2020


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