South Africa-based Malawian prophet Shepherd Bushiri of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) scored a giant legal victory on Tuesday when the Gauteng High Court, in Pretoria, ruled in his favour that the organisers of Wednesday's 'False Prophets' march should stop using the event to defame the name of the renowned man of God.
The court underlined that the organisers should stop referring to Prophet Bushiri in defamatory terms on their posters during the Johannesburg march.
Presiding Judge Elizabeth Kubushi also interdicted organisers of the #FakeProphetsMustFall march and Martins Antonio--accused of making some of the defamatory statements--from making them on Facebook regarding the prophet.
Further, the court also ruled that Antonio, together with Solomon Ashoms and Charles Farai, should also stop attacking Prophet Bushiri on their Facebook profiles.
The three have always been attacking Prophet Bushiri on their Facebook profiles on a series of unfounded accusations.
Hence, Judge Kubushi ordered the three to delete, within 12 hours, all the offensive statements regarding Bushiri from social media.
Bushiri, who is also the founder of the Shepherd Bushiri Ministries International, which has branches in Pretoria, turned to court to obtain an urgent interdict against the spreading of defamatory statements on social media against him.
The prophet was not in court on Tuesday, but he was well represented by two senior advocates Barry Roux SC, who defended Oscar Pistorius and Mabasa Sibanda SC, as well as a string of lawyers.
Angolan Martins Antonio was the only one of the three respondents who opposed the interdict and who was present at Wednesday's proceedings.
Neither Ashoms or Farai pitched at court, but Roux told Judge Kubushi that they were not opposing the application.
The two have already removed the offending statements from their social media profiles, he said.
Roux, however, said it was up to the court to in any event also to rule against them, although they were not opposing the application.
"We fully understand freedom of speech, but our Constitution does not encourage unlawful conduct," Roux argued.
He said the statements published regarding Bushiri were clearly defamatory.
Roux said Wednesday's march against false prophets was a good march and Bushiri supported it. "It is something we need."
But Roux said it cannot be tolerated that Bushiri's good name is tainted in the process.
The prophet feared that posters would be displayed during the rally, which defamed him by linking him to criminal activities and by referring to him, among others, as the devil.
"This must stop," Roux said.
He told the court that a letter of demand was send to the three respondents. While the other two did adhere to the demands, Antonio point blank refused, he said.
"Antonio has a bone to pick but he does not know where to stop," Roux said.
Roux said Antonio was the author of the offending pamphlet, but Antonio's advocate vehemently denied this. He blamed others, including the other two respondents, for the creation of the posters and the offending words.
Advocate Khelu Nondwango said Antonio cannot be held responsible for the material created on the poster, as he is not the author of the document.
He said all Antonio did was to publish the poster on social media to try and attract publicity for the march.
Antonio, in an interview with Pretoria News, said he is not organiser of Wednesday's march.
He was simply invited "as one of victims who suffered under the accusations of the prophet."
Antonio is from Angola, Charles Farai is from Zimbabwe while Ashoms is from Nigeria.