ANC comrades lock horns over smear claims

A member of the ANC in Ekurhuleni stands accused of posing as the editor of a fake newspaper that he used to spread propaganda against interim regional treasurer Absalom Budeli.

Budeli last Saturday served Solomon Ramalobela with a lawyer’s letter of demand to cease and desist from making defamatory comments.

Ramalobela, through his “publication”, made allegations on social media that Budeli had a romantic relationship with Gauteng health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko and that his company conducted business with the department.

In the letter of demand, Budeli’s lawyers, Obert Ntuli Inc, said the regional leader was not only in business but a married man and father of four children. Our client has also instructed us that while he does business with the government, he is not doing business with the department of health,” the lawyers wrote.

“Furthermore, the business he is currently doing with the government is obtained in a legitimate and proper manner.”

The lawyers said Ramalobela, on or about October 21, posted on Facebook a newspaper article alleging an affair between Budeli and Nkomo-Ralehoko – also the Gauteng ANC deputy chairperson – and that the two had travelled to Dubai on a romantic getaway.

The Facebook post also alleged that Budeli was running a tender ring that benefited from tenders advertised by the Gauteng health department.

“Our client denies all the allegations made in the article you published. Furthermore, it appears that you, or someone connected to you, extracted information from the Company and Intellectual Property Commission about our client and/or companies he is connected to, to publish it to smear his good name.

“Our client has evidence that you, or someone connected to you, authored the article and that the newspaper is not a legitimate publication.”

According to records Sunday World saw, Ramalobela recently sent a media query to Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, in which he introduced himself as the senior editor and journalist at Politicburo – the alleged publication.

The media query referred to the alleged affair between Budeli and Nkomo-Ralehoko and the alleged tender ring. But in an earlier post on Facebook, he had feigned no knowledge of the so-called publication.

Budeli’s lawyers gave Ramalobela seven days to provide evidence that the newspaper he published was credible. He also had 24 hours to remove any defamatory statements against Budeli and issue a public apology within seven days.

“Should you fail to meet the above-mentioned demands, we are holding an instruction to approach the High Court of South Africa to seek damages of R500 000.”

In a letter dated November 5, regional coordinator Jongizizwe Dlabathi summoned Ramalobela to a meeting to discuss Budeli’s complaint against him.

“The complainant is thus requesting the region to take appropriate actions against the wrongful use of social media, guided by the ANC policy on the use of social media.”

Ramalobela said he was unable to comment because he was attending a funeral.

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