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Manyi asks acting judge to recuse herself in his defamation case

07 September 2017 - 11:37 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Mzwanele Manyi, whose company Lodidox owns The New Age and ANN7. File photo.
Mzwanele Manyi, whose company Lodidox owns The New Age and ANN7. File photo.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

Former government spin doctor Mzwanele Manyi has asked a judge presiding over his defamation case brought against him by Billionaire entrepreneur Magdalena Wierzycka‚to recuse herself.

Manyi‚ who was in the Johannesburg High court on Thursday‚ was informed by his counsel Vuyani Ngalwana SC before court proceedings that acting Judge Fiona Dippenaar comes from the same group of chambers as Wierzycka's counsel David Unterhalter SC.

Manyi could be heard telling Ngalwana that he should ask the judge to recuse herself.

WATCH | 'I want another judge' - Manyi on defamation case

Addressing the court during proceedings‚ Ngalwana told Dippenaar that Manyi was uncomfortable with her hearing the case.

"We've learnt that Acting Judge Dippenaar comes from the same group as my learned colleague [Unterhalter]‚" Ngalwana said.

Unterhalter told the court that Manyi's application for a recusal was without any basis as the constitution allows for the appointment of acting judges.

"The constitution evisaged that there would be acting judges. There must be substantial reasons for a judge to recuse him or herself. There is no case that has been made out‚" Unterhalter argued.

Dippenaar said she would consider the application and deliver her verdict at noon on Thursday.

Dressed in a black suit‚ Manyi was flanked by his wife Stella‚ with whom he was conversing and sharing jokes before court proceedings started.

Speaking after the court adjourned‚ Manyi said: "I'm totally disturbed by this. I feel that my Lady [Dippenaar] can only be biased. She is a junior to the Senior Counsel [Unterhalter].

"Every argument the Senior Counsel is going to make‚ she almost has a duty to accept it. That means that my case has been killed before it even started‚" said Manyi.

Wierzycka‚ the outspoken chief executive of Sygnia Asset Management and South Africa’s wealthiest woman‚ has filed an urgent application in the South Gauteng 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.