A group calling itself the Gauteng Radical Economic Transformation Support Group for President Jacob Zuma has said it will sue Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Ronald Lamola for referring to them as “thieves who have stolen money.”
The group’s spokesperson, Carl Niehaus, made the announcement in a statement issued on Monday.
Lamola made the comments while addressing an African National Congress (ANC) workshop on land expropriation without compensation in Midrand on Saturday.
‘RET of looting’
He said, “These thieves that have stolen money now they want to claim that they are RET and they are forces that are supposed to serve our people.
“This RET that they talk about, which is a clear ANC resolution which President [Cyril] Ramaphosa is committed to, is not the one that you think is the resolution. Their RET was the one of looting state resources. It was benefitting them.”
In his statement, Niehaus said none of the individuals in last week’s press conference held in defence of former President Jacob Zuma has ever been charged or found guilty in a court of law for “any such crimes.”
He said Lamola had thus committed “the crime of libel” against them, adding, “The Gauteng RET President Zuma Support Group has therefore resolved to sue Minister Lamola for libel, and we have instructed our attorneys to serve the required legal documents on him as a matter of urgency.”
R5 million claim
“The members of the panel at our press conference, who have been libelled by Minister Lamola, are senior ANC members and political leaders in our own right, and the baseless claims by Minister Lamola caused us serious damage, as such we are advancing a claim of five million Rands damages against him,” Niehaus wrote.
The group emerged last week in the wake of a warrant of arrest issued against Zuma by the Pietermaritzburg high court earlier this month.
Judge Dhaya Pillay issued the warrant, suspended until 6 May, after doubting the veracity of a medical certificate Zuma’s lawyers had presented to prove he was too ill to attend.
However, the group slammed Judge Pillay for “straying into the political arena,” accusing her of being part of the “political persecution” of Zuma.
The African National Congress (ANC) later cautioned Niehaus against “factionalising RET” and misusing Zuma’s name to fuel divisions in the party.
Addressing a cadres forum in Pretoria on Sunday, ANC Gauteng provincial chairperson David Makhura also said the party will not allow its members to organise themselves outside organisational structures.