Wierzycka wins interim order in defamation spat with Manyi | Fin24
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Wierzycka wins interim order in defamation spat with Manyi

Nov 20 2017 20:15
Jan Cronje

Cape Town - Magda Wierzycka, the CEO of fintech company Sygnia Asset Management, has secured a High Court ruling ordering ANN7 owner Mzwanele Manyi to remove a number of Twitter and Facebook posts. 

The judgment was handed down in the Gauteng Local Division of the High Court in Johannesburg on Monday by acting High Court Judge Fiona Dippenaar.

However, Dippenaar also referred the matter to a single judge sitting as an Equality Court and a High Court to make a final ruling. 

In her order Dippenaar wrote that pending a final ruling on the matter, Manyi must remove, within 24 hours, statements that Wierzycka said were defamatory from his social media accounts. 

Manyi has also been barred from making, retweeting or commenting on “defamatory statements” concerning Wierzycka or Sygnia. 

In a WhatsApp on Monday evening, Manyi told Fin24 that he was waiting for his attorney to send him the judgment. 

‘Economic terrorism’

Wierzycka had filed an urgent application in the South Gauteng High Court in early September after Manyi wrote on Twitter and Facebook that she was guilty of "economic terrorism" and was a “downright racist”. 

This followed an interview that Wierzycka did on CNBC Africa in early April 2017, where, among other matters, she said she would offer President Zuma as “much money as he wishes to have” to step down to boost investor confidence. 

Manyi, on social media, then claimed that Wierzycka wanted to “buy off” the President, tweeting that she “objectifies black people as things that can be bought”. 

He also referred to her as a “super rich White Monopoly Capitalist” and in a separate tweet said he wondered whether she was related to Janusz Walus, the man who assassinated SACP secretary general Chris Hani in 1993.

In her judgment Dippenaar said Manyi defended himself, in part, on the basis of freedom of expression. 

“He contends that the applicants are attempting to suppress fair comment on socio-economic issues which do not accord with the first applicant’s [Wierzycka] own views”. 

Lawyers for Wierzycka, meanwhile, said as part of their broader arguments that, as a public figure with many social media followers, Manyi had a special responsibility to ensure his public statements are “well-considered” and do not cause harm or incite violence. 

'Balancing exercise'

In her 34-page judgment, Dippenaar noted that the case concerned a “delicate balancing exercise” between the right to freedom of expression on the one hand and the right to dignity and equality on the other hand. 

Dippenaar also said that it was clear that “this court does not have the necessary jurisdiction to determine the application as a whole or consider the granting of any final relief". 

She therefore referred the matter to a single judge sitting as both an Equality Court and as a High Court for final ruling. 

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