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Manuel's happy with the defamation ruling, but the EFF's not having it

Trevor Manuel said he would donate the money he won from his defamation suit to pensioners who lost their money in the VBS Mutual Bank collapse.

FILE: Trevor Manuel delivering the keynote address at the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Trust Public Lecture hosted by the University of the Western Cape on 16 May 2018. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Former finance minister Trevor Manuel on Thursday welcomed the ruling by the Johannesburg High Court against the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that comments the party made about him were defamatory and false, saying the red berets cannot be allowed to get away with spreading lies without consequences.

The EFF made the comments after a panel that Manuel was on recommended the appointment of Edward Kieswetter as the South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner, an appointment which the EFF said was based on nepotism.

“I’m very glad that the judge was persuaded that the EFF is wrong [and] that disagreement of views doesn’t mean that we begin to disrespect each other. And the EFF has been guilty of this times without number and hopefully this points out that they should not be allowed to behave in that way,” Manuel told Eyewitness News after the ruling.

Manuel said he would donate the money he won from his defamation suit to pensioners who lost their money in the VBS Mutual Bank collapse.

“It will be handed to victims of VBS; people who are poor and have drawn the short end of abuse . I hope that I receive that R500,000 in hand,” he said.

The EFF said the court erred in its judgment as the party’s comments were made in a political context.

Meanwhile, the EFF has said it would not retract its "correct observation" and would appeal the ruling.

"Trevor Manuel formed part of a questionable process of selecting a Sars commissioner in secret, in which the outcome was his personal friend and colleague.

"We cannot be told to retract the truth," the party said.

The EFF in March had claimed that Kieswetter was a relative of Manuel's and the two had a close business relationship, but the EFF did not provide evidence to support this.

Manuel approached the courts after the party refused to apologise.

The High Court ordered the EFF to remove the statements from all social media platforms and apologise to Manuel within 24 hours. The former minister was also awarded R500, 000 in damages.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)

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