Tobacco firm loses battle to gag #TakeBackTheTax spokesperson Yusuf Abramjee

Pretoria – Crimefighter and spokesperson for #TakeBackTheTax, Yusuf Abramjee, won the case in which the Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation wanted to silence him from speaking out about them.

Abramjee said he will continue the fight against the illicit cigarette trade and he called on SARS and the police to act against any unlawfulness in this regard.

The company turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, for an urgent interim interdict against Abramjee, after it claimed that the well-known presenter of Crime Watch has embarked on a smear campaign against them.

They wanted an urgent order to interdict Abramjee from making statements which they say is tarnishing their image.

According to the company, Abramjee is making public statements which include that they are an illicit brand, that they do not pay taxes and that they are “robbing” the country.

Gold Leaf, who produces the contentious RG brand of cigarettes, also wanted the court to force Abramjee to remove these “defamatory” statements from his website. 

They have also issued a R50-million damages claim against Abramjee for alleged defamation. Gold Leaf said Abramjee’s public campaign against them is causing them reputational and financial harm.

The first post appeared on the website on November 27, last year. Subsequent to this, Gold Leaf’s lawyers wrote a letter to Abramjee, demanding that he removed the posts, which he did not do.

In this letter, Gold Leaf also told Abramjee to apologise to them, to retract his statements and to make a financial offer to them as how much he would pay them in damages. 

On February 14 this year, he again published an article on his website, in which he, in essence, repeated these statements. Gold Leaf once again send him a letter in which they threatened to go ahead with their R50-million damages claim against him. They also said they will seek an interdict against him. 

Abramjee’s advocate, Steven Budlender, told Judge Lettie Molopa Sethosa that this was “bullying tactics.”  Budlender also said the matter should be struck from the roll, as Gold Leave had created their own urgency.

Judge Molopa Sethosa agreed that Gold Leave had since November last year to turn to the urgent court. In striking the matter from the roll, she said she will not comment on the merits of the application, nor on why Gold Leave took an individual to court and not the other parties, including the media houses, which in June last year already published statements about Gold Leaf.

zelda.venter@inl.co.za

Pretoria News

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