Former Johannesburg executive mayor Parks Tau. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
Former Johannesburg executive mayor Parks Tau. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

The high court in Johannesburg held on Friday that statements made by the former mayor of the city‚ Parks Tau‚ in 2016 about current mayor Herman Mashaba were defamatory.

Mashaba approached the court for relief pending the finalisation of a defamation lawsuit for comments Tau made alleging Mashaba was sexist and anti-black.

At a funeral of an ANC councillor on August 28 2016‚ Tau said: “The city is today led by a man who believes women who are senior executives prostituted themselves to be in the jobs they are in. He says that in fact for them to earn the positions that they are in they had to sleep with the leadership.

“We have heard views from the mayor‚ Herman Mashaba‚ who says that in fact if it were up to him he would not want to be black.”

Tau reportedly did not deny making this statement.

However, he said his comments were in response to a statement by Mashaba on August 10 2016 in which he had said: “If the wrong people are in the wrong positions‚ they are going to be purged. The days when they allowed their girlfriends to run state institutions are over.”

Tau also defended his statement about Mashaba being anti-black‚ saying this was fair comment based on what Mashaba had said in the past.

Mashaba sought an order from the high court directing Tau to retract the allegedly defamatory statement‚ to refrain from repeating such statements in the future and to issue an unconditional apology. 

In the judgment passed on Friday the court said Tau’s comments “stretched the boundaries of legitimate political criticism into character assassination”.

The high court declared that the statements made by Tau were defamatory and interdicted the former mayor from repeating them.

“All other issues relating to relief‚ including a claim of R2m‚ are deferred to the pending action I have instituted for damages for defamation‚” Mashaba said on Sunday.

Tau was also ordered to pay the costs of Mashaba’s application‚ including the costs of two counsel.

Mashaba said he had decided to donate the proceeds of this costs order to an organisation supporting women in need as a result of abuse and other social ills.

Mashaba said Tau was given the opportunity to retract these disturbing comments and apologise.

“However‚ he refused to do so, which resulted in me having to turn to the courts for relief.”

Mashaba said should he succeed in this defamation lawsuit‚ he would also donate those proceeds to an organisation supporting women in need in Johannesburg.