Phosa fast-tracks R10m defamation case
Senior ANC figureheads Mathews Phosa and David Mabuza will square up in the North Gauteng High Court on May 9.
Phosa approached the court to set a date for a R10 million civil claim that Mabuza wants to institute against him.
Mabuza, the premier of Mpumalanga and a close confidant of President Jacob Zuma, announced earlier this year that he planned to institute a R10 million defamation suit against Phosa for labelling him as an apartheid spy.
Now Phosa has daringly approached the high court demanding a trial date be set because he feels that “justice delayed is justice denied”.
The registrar of the court has subsequently set the case for May 9 next year – setting the stage for one of the country’s most high-profile political lawsuits.
State Security Minister David Mahlobo is expected to be subpoenaed to testify in the civil matter.
Phosa is a former ANC treasurer-general. He was Mpumalanga premier between 1994 and 1999, during which time he appointed Mabuza as his education MEC. He is now a lawyer and businessman.
“I believe that DD [Mabuza] has no case and that because he went public intentionally, and maliciously lied, all these need to be exposed, [along with] all the shenanigans we have since discovered,” Phosa said. “The rest will be ventilated in court.” Mabuza’s spokesperson, Zibonele Mncwango, declined to respond to questions to clarify if the premier’s lawyers were stalling and if they still had a case, given that Mabuza had a fallout with his key witness, Jan Venter. Mncwango said the matter was “sub judice”. The ruckus started in September 2014 when Phosa submitted a report to ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte that alleged that Mabuza was an apartheid spy codenamed PN485 who spied on senior ANC leaders – including Zuma, education minister Angie Motshekga and the late Albertina Sisulu – between 1985 and 1993.
According to the report, Mabuza worked with notorious apartheid killers Eugene de Kock, the former Vlakplaas commander, and security policeman Butana Nofomela.
Mabuza has denied the allegation. His denial was bolstered by Venter, who was Phosa’s butler at the time.
When Venter lost his job at Phosa’s house, he alleged that he saw his former boss being assisted by an associate, Nick Elliot, to draft the report in which the spy allegations are contained.
Venter became a key witness in the matter and subsequently gave an affidavit to police on February 25 this year in support of a case of criminal defamation Mabuza opened against Phosa.
Venter has, however, made an about-turn and apologised to Phosa for dragging his name through the mud after Phosa laid perjury and criminal defamation charges, and successfully applied for a gagging order against him. He also instituted a civil claim of R53 000 against his former butler.
But the two have now kissed and made up, with Venter saying he was paid to lie about Phosa. City Press has seen some payments amounting to R15 000, which were transferred by Mabuza’s lawyer, Ian Small-Smith, into Venter’s account.
Small-Smith has denied he paid the money on Mabuza’s behalf, saying Venter had asked for it to buy food.
Phosa said Mabuza’s case “had no leg to stand on” since Venter’s change of heart.
Mncwango could not be drawn into commenting about whether Mabuza had requested President Zuma to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the spy allegations.