DA's 'Zuma stole' SMS ruled as fair comment

President Jacob Zuma. (Gallo)

President Jacob Zuma. (Gallo)

An SMS the Democratic Alliance (DA) sent to over 1.5-million prospective Gauteng voters accusing President Jacob Zuma of stealing public money was fair comment, the high court in Johannesburg ruled on Friday.

Acting Judge Mike Hellens said the ANC's application was dismissed with costs. The ruling party wanted the DA to retract the SMS, stop sending it and apologise, or be fined up to R200 000.

The SMS stated: "The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246-million home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change."

During arguments on Wednesday, Gcina Malindi for the ANC argued the SMS was in contravention of the Electoral Act and Code of Conduct.

The ANC argued that public protector Thuli Madonsela never said Zuma had stolen or concluded that he stole public funds.While, Ismail Jamie for the DA argued his client had not stated that Madonsela's report had said Zuma stole public funds. He said it "showed" he stole public funds to build his Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal home.

A reasonable person could conclude from Madonsela's report that the president stole from the public, he said.

In her "Secure in Comfort" report released last month, Madonsela found Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from security upgrades to his private Nkandla home. – Sapa

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