Deputy President David Mabuza has taken legal steps to gag a Mpumalanga man from making public statements linking him to assassinations.
Mabuza is also demanding that Pompie Letwaba, a member of the Mashishing Civic Coalition, issue an apology for the statements he has made in at least two national television stations.
Mpumalanga gained notoriety for being the wild east following the fatal shooting of former City of Mbombela speaker Jimmy Mohlala in 2009, which was followed by the killing of former Mpumalanga culture sport and recreation spokesperson Sammy Mpatlanyana in 2010. Both cases have, more than a decade later, not been resolved.
Mohlala was exposing corruption in the construction of the R1.2 billion Mbombela Stadium while Mpatlanyane died after finding out that his signature was forged while he was in Germany.
Mabuza’s lawyers, from Stein Stop Attorneys, sent a letter to Letwaba via WhatsApp.
“The purpose of this letter is to demand an immediate undertaking that you stop making false and defamatory statements about the deputy president and issue an apology for the statements that you have already made,” the letter reads.
“We have watched two interviews conducted with you, one with Xoli Mngambi of Newzroom Afrika and one with JJ Tabane of eNCA. In those interviews, you made the following false and highly defamatory statements about the deputy president:
- When Mabuza became the premier of Mpumalanga, ‘people began perishing one by one’;
- During the time Mabuza was premier, 27 people were assassinated and ‘evaporated into thin air’;
- The deputy president is responsible for the killing of whistle-blowers and knows the masterminds behind assassinations in the province;
- Mabuza is a man without ethics and morals, and he is the genesis of problems in both the country and the ANC; [and]
- Mabuza is a political monster who brutalises the people of Mpumalanga, and he is South Africa’s most feared political monster.”
“In the interviews, you were repeatedly asked to provide evidence for these allegations. You failed to do so. The deputy president is well aware of the provisions of the Constitution and is mindful and supportive of the right to freedom of speech, which is protected by the Bill of Rights, however, it is well established that the right to freedom of expression does not entitle a person to infringe on the dignity of another by spreading untrue allegations which are highly damaging of that person’s reputation,” the lawyers said.
“The deputy president, in addition to being the second-highest ranking office-bearer in the country, is a senior member of the ANC, an organisation which has publicly committed itself to stamping out corruption as well as other malfeasances. In that context, the false statements which you have been making go far beyond what is protected by our Constitution. In short, you have repeatedly damaged the reputation of the deputy president without any justification for doing so by spreading malicious allegations without providing evidence for them.”
‘A LOT IS STILL COMING’
Letwaba told City Press that he was not going to apologise and threatened to spill more beans.
“I’m not going to apologise today, tomorrow or in the future,” he said.
“What I said on Newzroom Afrika and eNCA is the tip of the iceberg … A lot is still coming.”
Letwaba said that Mabuza had a lot to answer to about the deaths in Mpumalanga. He said: I stand by what I said. I was raising public issues, not private matters. The president [Cyril Ramaphosa] must institute a commission of inquiry into this.
He has been given until November 29 to apologise or face action in the high court.