BAFANA STEPHEN ZONDO AND RIVERS OF LIVING WATERS MINISTRIES VS THETHA COMMUNITY RADIO STATION AND OTHERS

The applicant in this matter was Bafana Stephen Zondo, a pastor and leader of the church known as Rivers of Living waters situated in the Orange farm area of Gauteng, accordingly cited as the second applicant. The Respondents were Thetha FM a community radio station in the Orange farm area as well. The second and the third respondents were the Radio talk show host and stations manager respectively.

Pastor Zondo brought an interdict application to the high court against the community Radio Station Based, in which he alleges defamation by way of broadcast made by the radio station saying he was a Satanist. The interdict sought to prohibit the radio from any further broadcasts pertaining to him. He further threatened a defamation suite of 10 Million rand, should the interdict (order) be granted.

The FXI represented all the respondents in this matter, and in the answering papers to the action, averred that the statement made on the radio show concerned were not defamatory and were qualified by privilege and further that they were reasonable to publish in the circumstances making it clear that the respondents took reasonable steps to ascertain veracity of the claims.

The Applicant has failed alternatively neglected to enter any pleadings post the filing of our answering affidavit. We have sent a written correspondence seeking that they address the matter or withdraw the action should the no longer wish to pursue the action. The applicant exhibited a disinterest in the matter and in our view abandoned the action.

This case stood to highlight the use of the law and court procedure to stifle journalistic and press freedom where the press seek to report on matters of currency and public interest, which overrides the interest of the individual concerned (justified limitation).