Sikonathi Mantshantsha, a former journalist and current Eskom spokesperson, has launched a crowdfunding appeal for about R1 million to cover the costs of fighting a defamation suit filed against him by former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko.
Mantshantsha, who is now Eskom’s spokesperson, had reported extensively on corruption at Eskom in 2017 and is being sued by Koko for tweets in which he predicted the arrest, conviction and jailing of the former executive.
Koko says the tweets are defamatory and is claiming R600,000 in damages.
Business Day reported that Mantshantsha says that the tweets were not defamatory and that Koko is trying to engineer a strategic lawsuit against public participation (Slapp), aimed at silencing his critics on social media. Koko launched a similar Slapp against a 72-year-old nursey school teacher earlier in 2021, which he lost with punitive costs.
The teacher, Barbara Tanton, had also tweeted words to the effect that Koko was a thief.
Slapp suits are sometimes used by the rich and powerful to litigate against activists and others who will not be able to afford litigation, to discourage their activism.