The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) has instituted a defamation claim of R21.1-million against sports journalist Graeme Joffe in the South Gauteng High Court, Beeld reported on Friday.
The court documents, filed on July 3, argued that 23 of Joffe's sports columns, written for, among others, Media24, were defamatory, and that Joffe had accused the organisation of unethical and illegal conduct.
According to the court papers, Joffe wrote that Sascoc had behaved "contrary to the interest of South Africa, engaged in corrupt activities, and wasted money".
Eight of Sascoc's board members, including the organisation's president Gideon Sam, and chief executive Tubby Reddy, lodged the claim.
The plaintiffs said they would argue in court that what Joffe wrote was inaccurate and that he intended to harm their reputation.
The eight had also demanded that Joffe withdraw his statements and apologise.
Joffe said in response that as a sports journalist, he had an obligation to tell the truth about Sascoc, that the organisation bullied many people, and that this was in all likelihood an attempt to silence him.
"I will definitely oppose the claim."
He stood by everything he had written, and he had all the facts to substantiate his claims, Joffe said.
Joffe wrote a series of articles lashing out at the Reddy and Sam, accusing them of ignoring the real issues at Sascoc.
In an open letter in June, Joffe questioned Reddy's comments that a meeting he had with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) "went well". – Sapa
Also in June, Joffe said Sascoc was leading to the moral decay of South Africa's sport, saying it was responsible for South African sport's "moral decay".
Joffe on July 1 also wrote a column calling the organisation "disgraceful, sick and spiteful". – Additional reporting by Staff Reporter