25 January 2013

Africa: Zuma Sues Media24 for Damages

Johannesburg — President Jacob Zuma's case against Media24 and former Rapport editor Tim du Plessis for allegedly harming his reputation and dignity continued in court this week, according to a report on Friday.

The Star reported that Zuma was demanding R5 million over a photo which appeared in Rapport in December 2007, showing him braaiing with singer Steve Hofmeyr and comedian Leon Schuster.

The case came before the Western Cape High Court this week.

The text above the photo read: "Piekniek by Dingaan [Picnic at Dingaan's]".

Zuma filed a damages claim in 2010, alleging that the innuendo was that he was a person such as the Zulu King Dingaan, who had pretended to befriend the Afrikaners while he had in fact plotted to kill them.

The defendants - the media company and Du Plessis - denied in their court papers that it had been their intention to create that innuendo.

They said the reasonable Rapport reader would have understood that it was a playful reference to the Dingaan incident, or to a satirical 1998 cabaret by Koos Kombuis and Johannes Kerkorrel, or to both.

In October 2012, Zuma withdrew a defamation case against Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro and The Sunday Times over the cartoon "Lady Justice".

In the claim, lodged in December 2008, Zuma initially demanded R5m.

At the time, the presidency said it felt the courts were not always the best places for these matters to be resolved, and added that the president needed to get on with resolving urgent economic and political issues.

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