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Wierzycka and Another v Manyi (30437/17) [2017] ZAGPJHC 323

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Wierzycka and Another v Manyi (30437/17) [2017] ZAGPJHC 323

24th November 2017

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[1] This is an urgent application which concerns a delicate balancing exercise of the right to freedom of expression on the one hand and on the other hand, the right to dignity and equality. These rights are enshrined in the Constitution, 1996 ("the Constitution").

[2] The respondent contends that he is merely exercising his right to freedom of expression in the course of robust political debate, whereas the applicants contend that the permissible parameters of such right have been exceeded.

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[3] It would appear that the application has its roots in opposing political views held by the first applicant and the respondent. The case is, however, not about which of these views is preferable, but about how these views have been expressed.

[4] The application relates to certain tweets and/or statements ("the statements") concerning the applicants, published by the respondent on his social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook. The applicants contend that the statements constitute a campaign of harassment and hate speech under the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act[1] ("PEPUDA"), defamation and an infringement on their constitutional rights. The respondent disputes this.

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[5] The first applicant is a businesswoman and self-proclaimed activist against discrimination, corruption and state capture. She has on her version, called on South African businesses to take a stand against corruption and state capture. She is the CEO of the second applicant, a public company listed on the JSE, with substantial domestic and international clients, including corporate entities and individuals and some R174 billion under administration.

[6] The respondent is, in his own words, a transformation and social justice activist and ex senior public official. Presently he is the President of the Progressive Professionals Forum and has recently founded the Decolonisation Foundation to deal with issues of social justice and sustainable economic transformation. The respondent is on his own version a supporter of President Zuma and the leadership of the ruling party.

[7] At the hearing, the respondent sought to introduce further documents, being certain tweets emanating from the first applicant. No affidavit was presented in support of the admission of further evidence. As such, the documents do not constitute proper evidence and are disallowed.

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