For Public Works & Information
Mdluli & 4 others
Echo (Pty) Limited
Trial No. 2142/99
Plaintiff B. G. Simelane
2, 3 & 4 Defendant P.R. Dunseith
plaintiff has sued the defendants claiming damages for an alleged
defamation of the plaintiff by the 1st defendant. In the particulars
of claim as amended the plaintiff describes himself as an adult male
and Managing Director of the Swaziland Television Authority Mbabane
in the Hhohho District.
is the Honourable Minister for Public Service and Information,
Magwagwa Mdluli. The 2nd Defendant is the Attorney General of the
Kingdom of Swaziland. The 3rd defendant is Sabatha Dlamini, an adult
male employee of the 5th defendant, apparently a journalist. The 4th
defendant is Mashumi Thwala an adult male and the Editor of the Times
of Swaziland which is the 5th defendant and the Fifth defendant is
the African Echo (Pty) Ltd the company which is the publisher of the
Times of Swaziland.
amended particulars of claim quote two articles published in the
Times of Swaziland on two different days. The defamation on which the
plaintiff relies which is said to be injurious and defamatory of the
plaintiff is alleged to be both untrue and "mistaking to the
public" (sic) for particular reasons. The plaintiff states that
there is a meaning to be extracted from these statements that the
first defendant uttered and the second and third defendants published
which conveyed to the readers of the newspaper that the plaintiff
uses company cars to "loiter and scout for lovers and is
therefore without morals".
further allegation is that the said articles were widely disseminated
and distributed and read by many people in Swaziland, who understood
or must have understood the said article as conveying the aforesaid
meaning of and concerning the plaintiff.
plaintiff again alleges that the meaning is defamatory of "our
client". This is an obvious repetition of the demand. It is
inappropriate in the particulars of claim.
paragraph 9 the plaintiff alleges.
uttering and publishing such statements, plaintiff has sustained
damage to his fair name and fame and reputation in his capacity as
Managing Director of STVA,
and respected member of the community and has accordingly sustained
damage in the sum of
quoted sentences are obviously grammatically inaccurate. As it stands
it means that the plaintiff published and uttered the offending
statements. Obviously, this is not so. The particulars of claim
concludes with a statement that the first, second, third and fourth
defendants are liable to the plaintiff, jointly and severally.
the outset I do not see any basis in which the 2nd defendant can
possibly be held liable for the defamation and no basis therefore
appears in the particulars of claim.
have read the articles closely and can find nothing defamatory in the
first article. There is no connection between it and the second
far as the second article is concerned, there too there is nothing to
connect the plaintiff with the statement that motor vehicles should
not be allocated to individual employees of the STVA. There is
nothing to show that the vehicle with which the plaintiff had been
supplied was one of those purchased by Nkambule to be used "only
in scouting for girls."
two articles appearing in the newspaper deal with different subject
matter. In the first instance the plaintiff who has been suspended is
said by reason of his suspension not to require a motor vehicle, and
that for this reason the vehicle should be recovered from him. This
has nothing to do with the allegations allegedly coming from the
mouth of the Minister in the second article.
reasonable reader of the newspaper could come to the conclusion that
the Minister at any time suggested that the plaintiff was using his
car to assist him in the romantic adventures described as scouting
therefore find that the exception must similarly be upheld.
result is therefore that the exception is upheld with costs. The
plaintiff is afforded an opportunity of 7 days within which to
reframe his cause of action failing which the action is dismissed.