In this trial I need to decide two questions:
a) Did Defendant defame the Plaintiffs?
b) Is Defendant guilty of contempt of Court?
The two actions were consolidated and I heard evidence for some three weeks. Various lengthy affidavits were made during the course of the proceedings mainly by Second Plaintiff and by Defendant himself. Defendant was unrepresented at the trial, but having been given the necessary assistance by myself and Senior Counsel for the Plaintiffs on numerous occasions, conducted the proceedings with a good measure of insight and expertise. Except where I indicate otherwise, he had good knowledge of First Plaintiff’s business and in that context was able to conduct his defence adequately. As a result I am completely satisfied that he had a fair trial and that assistance was given to him whenever it became necessary. Two days were set aside for argument. Defendant indicated some two Court days beforehand that he was ill/depressed and/or suffered from anxiety attacks. He was told that he need not present written Heads of Argument as previously agreed to. The argument continued in his absence. It was recorded and transcribed and forwarded to Defendant with an opportunity of some three weeks to make whatever submission he wished. There was in my view, taking into account all back-ground facts, and the history of this litigation no prejudice to him is this regard. There was no formal application for a postponement, no affidavit by a medical practitioner, not even a note. From previous experience Defendant knew quite well what was required. He was fully aware of his rights, having previously applied to Tuchten J for a postponement and having drafted the founding affidavit himself. He was also fully aware of a previous order made by myself, which required him to provide satisfactory proof of his medical condition before he, on his own accord, simply absented himself from the on-going proceedings.
See: Brian Kahn vs Samudin 2012 (3) SA 310 GSJ at G - tt