A matter in which The Sunday Standard Newspaper Directors and shareholders are suing Mmegi Newspaper for defamation started this week at the High Court before Justice Godfrey Radijeng in Gaborone.
Sunday Standard dragged Mmegi to court for published stories alleging that the New York-based CIA-linked Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) had funded their printing press.
Mmegi had also alleged that the Former Debswana MD, the late Louis Nchindo had bankrolled the weekly broadsheet during its formative years.
At first Sunday Standard’s attorney served Mmegi with a letter demanding that they apologise and retract a series of stories published in 2016 because they were defamatory but Mmegi refused to comply with the Sunday Standard demand and the defamation suit was filed.
Court papers had indicated that Sunday Standard want Mmegi to retract the allegations, pay P1 million to each of the Directors being the Editor, Outsa Mokone, Deputy Editor Spencer Mogapi and Prof Malema who was Business Editor at the time, interest on the amount at the prescribed rate from the date of summons to date of payment and costs of the suit.
The articles published on the 15th of July 2016 claimed that Ink Centre for Investigative Journalism and Sunday Standard are sponsored by CIA / linked to undermine the country’s sovereignty and its national institutions.
“Articles were published under headings, ‘Ink Centre of Journalism: Snout in the CIA feeding trough’, Who is the Open Society Foundation’ and Sunday Standard printing press: White Elephant in the room. How Sunday Standard lies about Botswana’s foreign funders and Standard Editors eat Nchindo’s money,” read court papers.
During trial Mmegi’s attorney Kiven Mvududu asked court to summon the third plaintiff, Professor Malema to court to testify.
He said just like Mokone and Mogapi Prof Malema should testify on how the articles had harmed his reputation and personal life.
Sunday Standard lawyers Nick Ferrirra and Janice Bleazard objected to the defendants’ application saying enough evidence of defamation is written in the application and that it was enough that the other two plaintiffs had testified.
Judge Dijeng ruled that Prof Malema should not be part of the claim. The trial continues on October 17-18th.