The failure of Sunday Independent assistant editor Piet Rampedi to retract public allegations made against investigative journalist Jacques Pauw in February has now seen a legal summons issued on Rampedi.
On 20 February 2020, Rampedi was issued with a lawyer’s letter in which Pauw demanded an apology for, and retraction of, Twitter and Facebook posts in which Rampedi accused Pauw of racism and alleged that he had “molested young boys in Mozambique on SABC assignment in early 2000”.
Rampedi has since failed to remove the posts or to respond to the lawyer’s letter.
In a statement on Thursday, Pauw wrote: “I regard especially Rampedi’s allegation around the molesting of boys in Mozambique of such a serious nature that I have decided to institute a defamation claim against him. He has caused me almost irreparable reputational harm and has seriously damaged my credibility as a journalist.”
Pauw also noted that Rampedi’s tweets were retweeted by, among others, EFF leader Julius Malema – who has 2.7 million Twitter followers – and two MPs, whom Pauw did not name.
Pauw indicated that although he regarded Rampedi’s labelling of him as a “racist liar” to be “equally defamatory and untrue”, he was following the advice of his lawyers to focus his legal case on the molestation claims.
Wrote Pauw: “I am therefore suing Rampedi, in his personal capacity, for an amount of R500,000. I also seek an order that Rampedi remove all the defamatory statements from all platforms and apologise for having made them, and pay all my legal costs.”
Rampedi has been given 10 days to indicate whether he intends to defend the action and a further 20 days to file his response.
Though Rampedi has yet to respond to the summons, he previously stated on Twitter that he was “consulting a lawyer with a view to defending the situation in court”.
As previously reported by Daily Maverick, the source of the Rampedi-Pauw feud originates from the mythical SARS “rogue unit” story. Rampedi was one of the Sunday Times journalists who originally wrote stories – since retracted – alleging the existence of an unlawful unit within the revenue collector.
In an article for Daily Maverick in February, Pauw pointed out the absurd contradictions in the new version of the SARS “rogue unit” narrative which has continued to be peddled by Rampedi and EFF leader Julius Malema.
It was following the publication of this story that Rampedi posted the allegations on social media for which he is now being sued for defamation.
This latest development comes in a week in which Daily Maverick has also indicated its intention to take legal action against the Independent group and student Modibe Modiba, after the IOL site published a false report in which Modiba claimed that he had been paid by Daily Maverick to produce tweets and articles amounting to a smear campaign against Independent owner Iqbal Survé and the EFF. DM
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