Former finance minister Trevor Manuel. Picture: SUPPLIED
Former finance minister Trevor Manuel. Picture: SUPPLIED

Trevor Manuel’s counsel argued in the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday that the EFF could not defend itself with claims that alleged defamatory comments against the former finance minister were fair comment, because the party had outright lied. 

Manuel has asked the court to declare that allegations of nepotism and corruption made against him by the party are defamatory. He has also asked the court to order the EFF to retract the statement containing the allegations and to apologise for them.

In a statement published by the EFF in March, the party accused Manuel of nepotism and corruption in influencing the appointment of the new Sars commissioner, Edward Kieswetter.

Manuel said the statement by the EFF was untrue, and launched the court action.

There are a number of defences that an alleged “defamer” can rely on to defend a defamation claim, including showing that the offending statement was true and that it was fair comment.

Carol Steinberg, lawyer for Manuel, said the facts before the court show that the EFF’s allegations against the former finance minister are false. She said the facts show Manuel was not a relative of Kieswetter and had no business relationship with the new commissioner.

She also said there was no corruption on Manuel’s part in the appointment of Kieswetter. “It has been shown that the allegations are false; the defence, on substantial truth, must fail.” 

She said that once it has been established that the “facts” the EFF relied on to make the defamatory statements are false, the defence of fair comment also falls away.

The EFF is yet to argue its case. It has opposed the application.