Famous author Jackie Phamotse’s defamation case has been put on hold pending the completion of a crucial social worker’s report.
Phamotse was found guilty in September of criminal defamation, crimen injuria, and contempt of court.
The guilty verdict related to her social media statements against former Miss SA and entrepreneur Basetsana Kumalo and her husband, businessman Romeo Kumalo.
The case now sees another delay in the proceedings initially set to address the severity of her sentence.
Phamotse appeared in the Randburg magistrate’s court on Tuesday.
Defence asks for a postponement
Her lawyer, Mpho Mathonsi, argued in favour of a postponement, stressing that the social worker’s report must be received before any additional action in the case is taken.
This argument hinges on the belief that the report’s insights are indispensable for a fair and comprehensive adjudication.
Yusuf Baba, a senior prosecutor representing the state, resisted the delay despite Mathonsi’s plea.
Baba stressed that since the judgment’s announcement in September 2023, there has been nearly a six-month delay.
The prosecution was ready to go forward and had prepared a list of witnesses that included Basetsana herself as well as author and social media legal expert Emma Sadleir.
Lack of preparation was criticised.
Baba criticised the defense’s lack of preparation, saying Basetsana, who had travelled from the UK for the case, was being treated unfairly.
Mathonsi responded, arguing that the lack of a court subpoena for the witnesses weakens the case against the postponement.
Mathonsi expressed concerns about the state’s apparent sense of urgency and argued in favour of waiting and following the law rather than moving quickly.
“Your worship, there will be no prejudice if this matter is postponed. We must not rush; the case will be finalised in a fair manner,” said Mathonsi.
“We also want the case to be resolved, but let us not jump the gun. The report is not done. I am humbly requesting a postponement.”
Considering the ramifications of moving forward without the social worker’s report, the magistrate expressed a desire to avoid calling witnesses back.
“I am avoiding a situation where your [the state] witnesses have to be recalled after the report is completed,” said the magistrate.
Justice and fairness for parties involved
However, the state insisted that it was ready to present its evidence right away and that the report’s delayed completion would not affect the case.
“There is nothing irregular about this. There is no prejudice,” said the defence.
In the end, the court granted the defence’s request and rescheduled the case for February 27 and March 5.
This decision was made with the understanding that, in order to ensure justice and fairness for all parties involved, the case, which has been pending for more than five years, needs to be resolved thoroughly.