Former government spin doctor Mzwanele Manyi told the court on Friday that his constitutional right to a fair hearing will be trampled if his defamation case is heard by the judge he has asked to recuse herself.
Manyi wants acting judge Fiona Dippenaar to recuse herself from a case brought against him by billionaire entrepreneur Magdalena Wierzycka because she comes from the same chambers as the counsel for Wierzycka‚ David Unterhalter SC.
Arguing on Manyi’s behalf in the South Gauteng High Court on Friday‚ Vuyani Ngalwana SC contended that Manyi’s fear should not be dismissed as “frivolous”.
“There is an apprehension that the judge may well discuss this case with other advocates‚ including my learned colleague [Unterhalter]‚” Ngalwana argued.
“The basis that compunds his problem is that this application is rooted in racial undertones. The application is brought by a white woman and also heard by a white woman.
“Section 34 of the constitution affords a right to any person to have a dispute resolved by an impartial tribunal or court.”
Unterhalter countered that a mere apprehension of bias was not enough.
“Mr Manyi has no insight into My Lady’s outlook on the world.”
Unterhalter argued that Dippenaar’s race did not say anything about her and was not grounds for a recusal.
Wierzycka‚ the chief executive of Sygnia Asset Management and South Africa’s wealthiest woman‚ has filed an urgent application in the South Gauteng High Court seeking an order to declare statements Manyi made on Twitter and Facebook — including that she was guilty of economic “terrorism” — defamatory.
Manyi has fought back‚ arguing that his statements were not unlawful and that there was no urgency in Wierzycka’s application. He wants the court to strike the matter off the roll.
Source: TMG Digital.