THE Citizen newspaper and three of its journalists were ordered to pay
Ekurhuleni metropolitan police chief Robert McBride R200000 for
defaming him in a series of articles published in September and October
2003, when he was shortlisted for the post, writes Ernest Mabuza in Business Day.

The articles questioned McBride’s suitability for the post, and referred to him as a cold-blooded killer in relation to his conviction for the bomb murder at a Durban bar where three women were killed in 1986.

The articles also claimed McBride flirted with alleged gun dealers in Mozambique.

Six articles were mainly editorial comment by acting editor Martin Williams and one was a column by Andrew Kenny.

Attorney for the newspaper Willem de Klerk said he had received instructions to consider the possibility of appealing against the judgment.

The damages award was R100000 less than McBride’s advocate, Daniel Berger, SC, had proposed.

Johannesburg High Court Judge George Maluleke said: “The case for (McBride) is that he was granted amnesty for the attack on the Durban bar, and the charges for which he was detained in Mozambique were quashed without him appearing in court .”

The judge dismissed as without merit arguments by The Citizen that it was fair comment for the newspaper to refer to McBride as a criminal and that McBride’s excursion in Mozambique which resulted in his arrest could be fairly described as a dubious flirtation with gun dealers. He said that comments and opinions founded on falsehoods and half-truths could not pass muster as fair comment.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.