ANC to appeal Nkandla SMS case

A Johannesburg court on Friday found the SMS, sent by the DA, to be "fair comment".

The DA's Mmusi Maimane and ANC's Jackson Mthembu address the media outside the high court in Johannesburg on 2 April 2014. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The ANC on Monday instructed its legal team to appeal an earlier ruling on the controversial Nkandla SMS.

The South Gauteng High Court on Friday ruled in favour of the Democratic Alliance (DA).

The official opposition sent a text message accusing President Jacob Zuma of "stealing" public money for upgrades to his private KwaZulu-Natal home.

This after Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's two-year long probe found the president benefitted unduly from the R250 millio n upgrades to Nkandla.

She also found he violated the executive ethics code and ordered Zuma to account to Parliament as well as pay back a portion of money for non-security upgrades.

The Johannesburg court on Friday found the SMS to be "fair comment", given Madonsela's findings.

The protector's use of the phrase "licence to loot" in relation to the upgrades proved crucial to the case and judgment.

The ANC says it believes Acting Judge Mike Hellens applied the wrong law to settle the dispute.

The ruling party says it's confident a higher court will reach a different conclusion.

Speaking to Eyewitness News on Monday, ANC Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize said Hellens made a mistake.

The ANC argued the DA SMS violated the Electoral Act.

Hellens instead chose to test the SMS against the Nkandla report and against the backdrop of the country's constitutional right to freedom of expression.

Mkhize spent the Monday campaigning in Nkandla.

He said the party received a warm welcome and battled to keep up with the demand for pamphlets and T-shirts.

Mkhize said people were excited about development in the area, including new shopping centres, clinics and schools.

"People are positive about the developments that have taken place in this area."

Mkhize also said the Nkandla controversy is not going to damage the ANC's campaign.

Read the court's full judgment.