The plaintiff in this matter was Mr Kriben Pillay a regional court prosecutor for the Magistrates court of Soshanguve. The defendants were Jacob Kawepano Mbhele (a journalist at the Soshanguve times), Teboho Molepo (Director of the Soshanguve times) and Thabo Mooke (Publisher of the Soshanguve times) in essence this was a suit against the Soshanguve times popularly known as “Sosh Times”.
The Plaintiff brought a defamation suit in the Magistrates court of Soshanguve against the Sosh times for defamation of character. The Plaintiff alleged that the paper had been defamatory towards him when they published an article in the newspaper titled “GIRL 14 RAPED, DOCKET MISSING” the article stated that the plaintiff had failed to bring a docket that pertained to a young rape complainant to court, this resulted to the case being postponed. The plaintiff contended that the statements made by the paper were wrongful and defamatory and claimed damages to the amount of R 100 000.00.
The defendants as represented by the FXI, in the matter pleaded as their defence, that the facts as stated in the article were true alternatively substantially true, and that it was in the public interest that the facts be published. In their plea in the alternative the paper further pleaded that the statements contained in the article were statements of opinion, and that such opinion constituted an honest opinion on a matter of public interest, and alternatively that such opinion was expressed honestly, fairly and in good faith as well as that they were based on true facts or substantially true fact as apparent on the article.
The matter was set down for trial or hearing on the 2nd of December 2009, however the plaintiff subsequently withdrew the proceedings. This way the matter never got to be tested in a court of law.
The FXI is of the sentiment that should this case have continued and was defended successfully would have sent the message to the public not to threaten the rights of newspapers to freedom of expression by bringing defamation suites simply because they do not agree with what may have been written or exposed about them.