05 DECEMBER, 2014
MOTSEPE JUDGMENT: COURT UPHOLDERS CONSTITUTIONALITY OF CRIMINAL DEFAMATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
Criminal defamation in South Africa is Constitutional. On 5 December, 2014, the Pretoria Division High Court ruled that criminal defamation is in fact consistent with the South African Constitution. This was ruled in the case of the appeal by journalist Cecil Motsepe against his conviction for criminal defamation in 2009. Although Motsepe’s conviction was overturned on the grounds that the State failed to prove that he acted with intention to defame, the court also found that the right to freedom of expression is indeed a significant right but not to the extent of trumping other rights and thus should be viewed in context. In that regard Criminal defamation has a place in the South African legal system even though it is a harsh sanction.