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High Court judge dismisses defamation case against "Times of Swaziland" newspaper

(MISA/IFEX) - On 6 March 2009, the High Court of Swaziland dismissed an E500,000 (approx. US$50,000) lawsuit against the privately-owned "Times of Swaziland" newspaper.

Tom Mkhatshwa, a local businessman, had sued the newspaper for defamation. High Court Judge Mbutfo Mamba said he would provide reasons for dismissing the case later. He then ordered Mkhatshwa to pay the costs of the suit.

In papers before the court, Mkhatshwa, who owns a trucking business, alleged that he had been defamed by the "Swazi News", a weekend edition of the "Times of Swaziland", in an article that appeared on 9 October 2004. The article mentioned two men who had been caught red-handed by private investigators as they were about to sell stolen fuel to Mkhatshwa. The private investigators alerted the police and the two men who had stolen the fuel were arrested.

In his arguments before the court, Mkhatshwa alleged that the contents of the article were defamatory and "wrongful." He said the article implied he bought fuel illegally. As a result, he alleged that the article was defamatory to his name and his business reputation.

The "Times of Swaziland", in its arguments, denied that the article was defamatory. The judge threw the case out.

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