Judge in Manyi, Wierzycka case refuses to recuse herself
● 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.