Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba. Photo: ANA

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Former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau slammed by High Court for defaming mayor Mashaba

JOHANNESBURG, February 10  – The proceeds of a costs order handed down by the High Court in Johannesburg against former mayor Parks Tau will be donated to an organisation supporting women in need as a result of abuse and other social ills, mayor Herman Mashaba said on Sunday.

On Friday, High Court Judge Willem van der Linde handed down judgment in Mashaba’s application for interdictory relief against Tau, Mashaba said in a statement.

“This relief was sought pending the finalisation of a defamation lawsuit against Parks Tau for crude and shameful comments he made alleging I was sexist and anti-black. In a scathing judgment, Van der Linde held that the comment ‘stretched the boundaries of legitimate political criticism into character assassination’. The High Court declared that the statements made by Tau were defamatory and interdicted the former mayor from repeating them,” Mashaba said.

All other issues relating to relief, including a claim of R2 million, were deferred to the pending action Mashaba instituted for damages for defamation. In another blow to Tau, he was ordered to pay costs for the application, including the costs of two counsel.

“I have decided to donate the proceeds of this costs order to an organisation supporting women in need as a result of abuse and other social ills. I will be requesting the department of social development in the City of Johannesburg to assist me identifying a suitable cause,” he said.

On August 28, 2016, at the funeral of the late ANC councillor Nonhlanhla Mthembu, Tau “tastelessly took advantage of the opportunity for cheap politicking” and stated “The City of Joburg is today led by a man who believes that the women who are senior executives prostituted themselves to be in the jobs they are in. He says that in fact for them to earn the positions they are in they had to sleep with the leadership…”

Van der Linde held that “the degrading aspect of the statement is so egregious that it transcends the boundaries of legitimate and fair political side-swipe”.

“Parks Tau was also slammed for making the following defamatory remarks against me: ‘We have heard views from the mayor Herman Mashaba who says that in fact if it were up to him he would not want to be black”, Mashaba said.

Van der Linde stated that, “To assert of a person with a black cultural allegiance that he denies his blackness is to assert that he betrays the shared suffering of the members of that community. That is to assert of a person that he has turned his back on his own and is a traitor. If there is still to be any limit at all to freedom of expression it seems to me that it must lie at the interface with the hurtful history suffered by some.”

Mashaba said the disturbing comments made by former mayor Tau were widely reported in the media and also led to protest action led by the ANC Women’s League outside his office.

“It discredited my hard work and reputation. Instead of being able to get on with the mandate given to our mutli-party government by the residents of Johannesburg, I found myself having to constantly refute these baseless allegations.

“It is without doubt that the ANC has failed to accept that the residents of Johannesburg no longer trust them to lead our city. Instead of dealing with facts, they have continuously resorted to character assassination in an attempt to discredit this administration.

“Parks Tau was given the opportunity to retract these disturbing comments and apologise. However, he refused to do so which resulted in me having to turn to the courts for relief. I would like to thank my legal team headed by advocate Dali Mpofu for helping ensure justice is upheld. Should I succeed in my later envisaged defamation lawsuit, I will also donate those proceeds to an organisation supporting women in need in Johannesburg,” Mashaba said. (ANA)

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