A deputy threatens to sue Zaki Ahmed and #UniteBehind for defamation of Barasa

A deputy threatens to sue Zaki Ahmed and #UniteBehind for defamation of Barasa

  • Zackie Achmat and #UniteBehind refuse to respond to a letter of request from former Prasa boss and Member of Parliament Sfiso Buthelezi.
  • In the letter, Buthelezi threatened to sue Ahmed for libel if he did not retract in writing and pay two million rand in damages for “reputational damage”.
  • It comes after Akhmat said, during an April 18 radio interview, that Buthelezi had “benefited personally, and his companies linked to him personally, from corruption to at least R120 million” in Prasa.

Former Brasa president and member of parliament Svizo Buthelezi is threatening to sue Zaki Ashmat, director of the transport activist group #UniteBehind, for defamation. This was after Akhmat was made Remarks during a radio interview in which Buthelezi was accused of corruption during his time at the South African Passenger Rail Agency (BRASA).

Buthelezi, through his lawyer, sent a demand letter to Ahmed on 6 July demanding a written retraction and a public apology in the “prominent media”, as well as payment of R2 million in damages for “reputational damage”.

During an interview with Akhmat on Radio 702 on 18 April, he stated that Buthelezi had “benefited personally, and his companies linked to him personally, from corruption to at least R120 million, and I think much more”, and that “[National] The Treasury investigation found he should be charged, and I know he was charged, but nothing came of it.”

Butthelezi’s lawyers, RMT attorneys, wrote that the radio interview included “false” statements that would “damage and discredit his personal and professional reputation” and that “the allegations are completely unfounded and lack any supporting evidence.”

The letter also states that Buthelezi will initiate legal action if damages are not paid within two weeks.

#UniteBehind responded to this with a statement on Monday, July 24 – the deadline for a R2 million payout. The organization said that Ahmet and #UniteBehind reject “the threat of Buthelezi’s threats and will vigorously defend the right to freedom of expression.” The organization said it has now become the target of a Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP) lawsuit.

“The destruction of Prasa has undermined the rights to life, food, safety, education, work, equality and dignity of working-class people,” read the #UniteBehind statement.

Buthelezi is currently a Member of Parliament and Chair of the Standing Committee on Appropriations (SCWA). In the statement, #UniteBehind demanded that the Speaker of Parliament immediately remove Buthelizi as SKWA President, that the ANC dismiss Buthelizi as deputy, and that the NPA prosecute Buthelizi “seriously and without delay”.

#UniteBehind said Prasa’s board, led by Buthelezi, “maintained almost no oversight over the many illegal contracts entered into during this period; instead it facilitated corruption.”

He points to several reports of corruption in Barasa, including former public defender Thuli Madonsela Derailed reportAnd the findings From the Judicial Commission for the Investigation of State Capture, Auditor General a report From 2022 onwards # Brassa Lakesamong others.

Parliament spokesperson Moluto Muthabo told GroundUp that they were unaware of the correspondence between the Speaker and Ahmat on the matter.

“However, in accordance with procedure, any allegations of wrongdoing by a member of the public against a Member of Parliament must be lodged as a complaint with the Ethics Committee. The Speaker does not have the power to arbitrarily investigate or remove Members of Parliament.”

But #UniteBehind Complaints placed against six MPs last year, including Buthelezi, with the hope that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Ethics and Member Interests will hold the MPs accountable for their involvement in corruption in Barasa.

“These deputies have been party to the destruction of our country’s commuter rail services,” #UniteBehind said in its statement.

#UniteBehind too Launched She sued the Parliamentary Committee in April this year for failing to act on her complaints.

Buthelezi’s legal representative, Jkoali Makhini, said Buthelezi “has no comment on the matter at this point.” DM

It was first published by Az.


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