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Nkandla SMS: ANC's application dismissed

The court found that the DA's Nkandla SMS constituted fair and protected comment.

FILE: The court found that the DA's Nkandla SMS constituted fair and protected comment. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The High Court in Johannesburg has dismissed the ANC's application to force the Democratic Alliance (DA) to apologise over the Nkandla SMS the party had sent to 1,5 million people ahead of the elections.

The court found that the SMS, which accused President Jacob Zuma of stealing public money, constituted fair and protected comment.

Judge Mike Hellens criticised the ANC for launching the application without submitting the full Nkandla report to court, calling this a fatal omission.

He then went on to summarise Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's findings in the copy provided by the DA.

Ultimately Hellens ruled that the DA's SMS amounted to fair comment given the core findings of the report and the Constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech which every South African enjoyed.

The judge also paid attention to Madonsela's conclusion that the Nkandla project created a "license to loot" and that Jacob Zuma violated the executive ethics code.

He also mentioned that political speakers should not be restricted to using legal or technical terms and that if they were, their audiences would dwindle.

Outside court, the DA's Mmusi Maimane called this a "massive victory" and said Zuma must account for the Nkandla spending.

Read the court's full judgment.