Published by business-humanrights.org on 5 June 2019; Author Khulekani Magubane, Fin24 (South Africa); original article here

« Xolobeni lawsuit: Activists Denied Access to Documents for Defamation Defence », 1 Jun 2019

The Western Cape High Court denied two attorneys and an activist opposing Mineral Sands Resources’ parent company’s plans to mine in Xolobeni access to documents which they hoped to use to defend against a defamation suit from the company.

The company that is looking to start mining in the heritage site community of Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape is taking environmental activists and attorneys to the Western Cape High Court for defamation. The two plaintiffs are Mineral Sands Resources – a subsidiary of Australian mining company, Mineral Commodities – and Mineral Sands Resources director, Zamile Qunya.

The defendants maintain that the defamation application is a « slapp-suit » intended to intimidate and financially exhaust their campaign. They made an interlocutory application for access to documents they said would prove their remarks constituted fair comment and not defamation. CER executive director Melissa Fourie said the organisation remained committed to resisting the threat that MRC’s « slapp suits » posed to civil society’s Constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of the media and academic freedom.

« We are disappointed with the judge’s ruling. However, we are not deterred. This case is about defending the Constitutional right to freedom of speech and is of fundamental importance to activists defending the environment everywhere. We will continue to fight these claims until justice is served, » said Fourie.

For further background reading, link here to 28 May 2019 Fin24 article, by Khulekani Magubane, entitled « Activists Accuse Aspiring Xolobeni Miner of Malicious Litigation ».

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