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Engelbrecht and Another v Independent Media (Pty) Ltd and Another (28924/2019) [2019] ZAGPJHC 450

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Engelbrecht and Another v Independent Media (Pty) Ltd and Another (28924/2019) [2019] ZAGPJHC 450

6th December 2019

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[1]       Before this Court, is an application for default judgment which served before the Registrar of this Court but was refused and referred to open Court since both the plaintiffs seek an order for payment of an unliquidated sum of money (general damages) in the tune of R5m. This application is against the first defendant only since the plaintiffs could not secure service of the summons upon the second defendant.

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[2]       The genesis of the matter is that both the plaintiffs are insolvency practitioners ploughing their trade within the jurisdictional area of this Court. The defendants published certain defamatory articles about both the plaintiffs in a certain newspaper and internet sites which are widely distributed between the Council of the Bar, the Judiciary and the side bar. The defendants alleged in the articles that the plaintiffs are corrupt, fraudulent and intimidate its opponents. The defendants have failed to retract and remove these articles from the respective internet sites on numerous requests from the plaintiffs.

[3]       On the 27th of August 2019 summons were served on the first defendant by the Sheriff and to date the first defendant has not filed its notice of intention to defend the action. What remains for determination by this Court is the interdictory relief and the amount of damages to be awarded to the plaintiffs in relation to the injury they suffered to their integrity and good names as a result of the aforesaid publications.

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[4]       It is a trite principle of our law that for the applicant to succeed in obtaining an interdictory relief, it must show that it has a clear right, a reasonable apprehension of harm to the right and that there is no other remedy available.

[5]       In this case the plaintiffs have established and are entitled to protect their good name and dignity they alleged has been infringed. The infringement of their reputation and good name by the publication has caused them and continues to cause them harm both in its personal and professional capacity through the wide spread dissemination of the impugned statements. The plaintiffs has no alternative remedy to the continuing injury since the defendants have failed to remove the defamatory statements from the internet sites nor published retraction of the said publications. The plaintiffs are therefore entitled to the interdictory relief they seek against the defendants.

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