Judge in Manyi, Wierzycka case re­fuses to re­cuse her­self

The Times (South Africa) - - News - By NOMAHLUBI JOR­DAAN

● Act­ing Judge Fiona Dip­pe­naar has re­fused to re­cuse her­self in the defama­tion case brought against for­mer govern­ment spin doc­tor Mzwanele Manyi by bil­lion­aire en­tre­pre­neur Mag­dalena Wierzycka.

Manyi had asked Dip­pe­naar to re­cuse her­self from the case be­cause she came from the same group of cham­bers as Wierzycka’s coun­sel‚ David Un­ter­hal­ter SC.

In her judg­ment‚ handed down on Wed­nes­day‚ Dip­pe­naar said Manyi’s per­spec­tive that she might be bi­ased in Wierzycka’s favour be­cause her coun­sel came from the same group of cham­bers was “mis­con­ceived”.

She said Manyi had not il­lus­trated that a “rea­son­able‚ ob­jec­tive and in­formed per­son would on the cor­rect facts ap­pre­hend that the court would not bring an im­par­tial mind to bear on the mat­ter”. She or­dered Manyi to pay the costs of the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Wierzycka‚ the out­spo­ken chief ex­ec­u­tive of Syg­nia As­set Man­age­ment and South Africa’s wealth­i­est woman‚ filed the ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion in the Jo­han­nes­burg High Court seek­ing an or­der to de­clare state­ments Manyi made against her on Twit­ter and Face­book — in­clud­ing that she was guilty of eco­nomic “ter­ror­ism” — defam­a­tory.

Wierzycka’s le­gal coun­sel ar­gued that her defama­tion ap­pli­ca­tion against Manyi was ur­gent be­cause her rep­u­ta­tion and safety were at stake. Her coun­sel, ad­vo­cate Lwandile Sisi­lana, said Wierzycka feared for her life and that of her fam­ily fol­low­ing threats.

He said if the state­ments Manyi had posted about her were not re­moved‚ she would con­tinue to suf­fer from ha­rass­ment and threats from the pub­lic.

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