Four former councilors of the official opposition of South Africa, the Democratic Alliance, have sued the former federal leader of the party for R1 million each for making what they referred to as defamatory statements while he was still the leader of the party. Suzette Little, Shaun August, Greg Bernado, and Thulani Stemele lodged papers with the Western Cape High Court last week.
Mmusi Maimane, who was then the National leader of the Democratic Alliance, wrote in his newsletter, which was called Bokamoso, an article called “Cape Town Council: We cannot sacrifice accountability on the altar of false victimhood”, in which he accused the councilors of being involved in tender irregularities according to the Bowmans report into suspected corruption in the council’s transport industry. In his statement, Maimane had said, “Can it be a coincidence that they have suddenly decided that the DA is racist now that they stand accused of maladministration?” This was apparently inaccurate as the councilors were not mentioned in the Bowmans report. According to Little, “The statements … were wrongful and defamatory … and were widely published to a large national and international audience,” adding that Maimane’s statements had been concerning.
The implicated councilors said that Maimane had been given ample time to apologise but had been arrogant and chosen not to. Said Little, “We asked him to withdraw the statements but he was arrogant enough not to withdraw the statements. His comments have affected peoples’ lives and he has made it clear that we will meet him in court, so we will see him in court. We were never mentioned in the Bowmans report.” In support of Little’s statement, Bernado said that Maimane had been given enough time to apologise and withdraw his statement but had chosen not to.
When contacted for comment regarding the court cases, Maimane referred all questions to his legal advisor, Dale Schmidt, who in turn refused to comment or respond to questions sent to him.