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Max du Preez Forced to Remove Social Media Posts Linking to SAA Documents

A Rumour of SpringThe ongoing controversy surrounding South African Airways – which saw an interdict being brought against Business Day for publishing internal documents – has developed even further with threat of a court order against political commentator and award-winning author Max du Preez for sharing the documents in question on his social media.

“My different posts and tweets with the link to the document were shared well over 2 000 times – and then shared again and again. It is today truly a public document,” the author of A Rumour of Spring: South Africa after 20 years of Democracy writes in a post on Facebook, explaining why he complied and deleted the posts in question.

Du Preez goes on to say, “This legal action only applies to me,” noting that it will not affect anyone who might have shared or liked his links on either Facebook or Twitter.

Read Du Preez’s explanation of the situation, published on his public Facebook page:


SAA is a state owned enterprise – owned by the people of South Africa. It has been seriously mismanaged, to the point that it is bankrupt and unable to meet its financial commitments. Many billions of state (our) funds have been spent to prop it up, but the rapid decline continues. It is not a private company; it should not have secrets from us, the owners.

So when I learnt that SAA management had obtained a court order to prohibit some media outlets from reporting on a memo to management by SAA’s legal people – painting a very dark picture – I posted a link to that document on Twitter and Facebook. I believed that it was our right as citizens to know what kind of crisis SAA was in. I did not believe the court order applied to me.

I have more than 14 000 Twitter “followers” and about 24 000 people follow my Facebook posts.

My different posts and tweets with the link to the document were shared well over 2 000 times – and then shared again and again. It is today truly a public document.

Last night the SAA’s lawyers phoned me and demanded that I take the tweets and posts down immediately or they would get a court order to force me to do so. I eventually got them to agree to give me time until this morning to try and put up a legal defence. The lawyers said they would launch a court application in Johannesburg at 10:30 this morning (Thursday) if the tweets and posts were not removed.

I had no intention to show contempt to the court in question, even though I believe it should never have made the decision it did. I regard our judicial system as a key pillar of our democracy and freedom.

I told the SAA lawyers that the decision to force me to remove the internet link to the document was silly, ridiculous and absurd because many thousands of South Africans have now read the document. It made no impression on them.

The little legal advice I could get in such a short time indicated that I could run a risk of incurring vast legal costs if I opposed the SAA’s court application and that there was a chance that I could lose.

I think the point has been made. The truth is out. I have achieved what I wanted to achieve.

I have just removed the FB posts and the tweets with links to the SAA memo.

This does not mean FB and Twitter users that had shared my posts and tweets are vulnerable or under any obligation to remove their tweets and posts. This legal action only applies to me.

Antoinette Slabbert reported on the dispute between SAA and Moneyweb, Business Day and Media24 – the three news outlets being taken to court for the way they have covered the story:

This follows SAA indicating on Wednesday that it is not prepared to abandon the interdict it got against the three news outlets on Tuesday. The interdict was to prevent the publication of a leaked internal report by its General Manager: Legal, Risk and Compliance, Ursula Fikelepi.

SAA got the interdict in the early hours of Tuesday morning after an unopposed application in the South Gauteng High Court. The airline contends that the report contains a legal opinion and is as such privileged and not for public consumption.


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