The plaintiff in this matter was Mr Ephraim Goitsemodimo Seleka ( hereinafter “Seleka”), a popular radio disc jockey for the SABC setswana radio station Motwseding FM. Mr Seleka also held a position as public relations officer at the Central district Municipality in Mmabatho in the North west province. The defendant in the matter was Mr Paul Moola (hereinafter “Moola”) who was at the time owner as well as the editor of the “North west on Sunday” a local newspaper.
Seleka had alleged that that during May 2005 the newspaper published an article entitled “Disgraced Celebrity”, which basically stated that Seleka was not qualified for the municipal job which he occupied. Seleka claims that the article was wrongful and defamatory to him, because it implies that he was corrupt and incompetent. Moola was thus sued in his capacity as the owner and editor of the newspaper that published the article.
Moola’s defence is that the statements in the article are true or substantially true and in the public interest, alternatively fair comment and reasonable. The trial was set down for hearing on 6 June 2007, however was withdrawn from the roll in the absence of discovery and various other documents necessary for trial.
Should litigation have been successful, it had the potential to positively impact on community newspapers around South Africa.
The aim of the FXI supporting the defendant in this matter was to defile the campaign of the rich and powerful, especially in small towns to silence outspoken community newspapers when they are the subject matter of the news; violates their rights to freedom of expression through press. Thus, as long as this remains the case, so too will millions of South Africans, be unable to access community media and enjoy the full spectrum of their fundamental human rights.