The elements of defamation

The Johannesburg High Court discussed the balance between the constitutional right to freedom of expression and the required respect for inherent dignity ‘to all human beings’. The defendant in Mostert v Nash argued the allegedly defamatory statements made about the plaintiff were true and in the public interest. It is for the defendant in a defamation claim to establish the truth of the allegations and the fact that they are in the public interest. The context in which the statements were made, their reasonableness, the tone used, the identity of the person who made the statements, and the identity of the victim are all relevant because they determine whether freedom of expression justifies the violation of a person’s right to dignity. A trustee of two pension funds that had been accused by the curator & liquidator of fraud and corruption made a number of allegations against the curator/liquidator. It was found that the truth of the allegations had not…

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