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Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba Drags Parks Tau to Court for Defamation


City of Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba is dragging his predecessor Parks Tau to court.

On Monday, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg is expected to hear a defamation case in which Mashaba is demanding R2m from Tau.

In 2016, soon after Mashaba’s election as mayor, Tau was reported to have verbally attacked Mashaba at the funeral of ANC councillor Nonhlanhla Mthembu, claiming Mashaba was sexist and anti-black.

Mthembu died in August 2016 after collapsing during proceedings to vote for the new mayor of the city.

According to our correspondent, Mashaba wants Tau to apologize for accusing him of being a “bigoted sexist who is racist and wishes he is not black”.

The newspaper reported on Sunday that Mashaba, in an affidavit filed in the High Court, said it was outrageous and ironical to suggest he didn’t want to be considered black when he decided to name his company Black Like Me.

However, Tau is opposing Mashaba’s defamation case on the grounds that he was reacting to public comments made by the mayor.

During Mthembu’s funeral, Tau reportedly said Mashaba had no respect for women.

“The City of Johannesburg 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 that they are in they had to sleep with the leadership. 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,” he is reported to have said at the time.

False, defamatory and malicious

Business Day further added that in the court papers, Mashaba said the statements were “false, defamatory and malicious” and “they do not reflect my personal views”. Mashaba further states that before the funeral he “thought that [Tau] would be gracious in defeat and not be a sore loser”.

Mashaba also stated that the ANC Women’s League and Cosatu repeated the “false and defamatory” accusations made against him by Tau, which he says were “calculated to engender hostility from the millions of women and black citizens of Johannesburg, making my task of leading the city unnecessarily difficult”.

Mashaba wants the court to order Tau, the ANC Women’s League and Cosatu to retract their “offending remarks”, refrain from repeating such or similar remarks in future, and issue an unconditional and widespread apology for the comments.

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