Carte Blanche to appeal defamation ruling

Actuality programme Carte Blanche said on Thursday they planned to appeal a guilty ruling of defamation after airing an insert about the safety of Gold Reef City’s rides.

Judgement was handed down on Wednesday regarding the defamation suit by the owners of Gold Reef City, suing for reputational and consequential damages.

Judge Nicholls found that an insert, aired in 2005 about the safety of the amusement park’s rides, was defamatory but she did not rule on damages, holding that Gold Reef City is entitled to “such damages as they may in due course prove”. This stage of the litigation has yet to take place.

Carte Blanche and M-Net note the judgement and respect the legal process, however, after studying the details of the ruling, we have decided to appeal. We will do so presently,” said executive producer George Mazarakis in a statement on the programme’s website on Thursday.

“Legal action comes with the territory. The show provides some of the most valuable journalism in the country and will continue to serve its viewers in this way,” he added.

R47-million claim
Gold Reef City was claiming R47-million in damages — R43,1-million in lost revenue for the theme park as a result of the bad publicity, another R3,66-million in lost revenue for the casino, and R200 000 in general damages.

Nicholls ruled that Gold Reef City was entitled to any losses that it could prove to the court.

If the entire R47-million gets awarded by the court, it would be one of the biggest defamation cases in South Africa’s legal history.

Nicholls also ordered the show to pay the legal costs of the case.

Carte Blanche based its show on claims by technician Paul Boshoff that some of the park’s steel fun rides were unsafe. It had argued that the broadcast was based on the truth and in the public’s interest.

Gold Reef City manager Joan Goosen told Beeld that its legal advisers were in the process of studying the judgement. — Staff reporter and Sapa

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