Swemmer & Levin

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Om lasterlike bewerings oor ’n ander persoon of entiteit te uiter, publiseer of plaas kan ernstige gevolge hê vir die persoon wat die verklaring vrystel.

Laster is ’n onregmatige daad volgens Suid-Afrikaanse wet wat ’n persoon se reputasie kan benadeel. Dit is ’n ernstige saak wat verwoestende gevolge vir ’n individu of besigheid kan hê. Laster kan ook ’n kriminele oortreding wees en sal dan na kriminele laster verwys word om die onderskeid te tref. Die verskil tussen siviele en kriminele laster lê, onder meer, binne die bewyslas. In siviele aangeleenthede word laster bewys op die waarskynlikheid van die saak, terwyl die bewyslas buite ’n redelike twyfel is in kriminele aangeleenthede.

In hierdie artikel sal ons laster in die Suid-Afrikaanse reg ondersoek, insluitende die toepaslike wetgewing, leidende regspraak, en die regsmiddels wat vir slagoffers van laster beskikbaar is.

Laster kan as die onregmatige en opsetlike publikasie van ’n verklaring wat ’n persoon se reputasie benadeel gedefinieer word. Dit kan in twee kategorieë verdeel word: smaad en laster. Smaad verwys na geskrewe of permanente vorme van kommunikasie, terwyl laster verwys na gesproke of tydelike vorme van kommunikasie.

Die belangrikste wetgewing wat laster in Suid-Afrika kontroleer, is die gemenereg, wat op regterlike besluite eerder as statutêre reg gebaseer is. Die Grondwet van Suid-Afrika voorsien egter vir vryheid van spraak, wat ’n fundamentele reg is, maar wat teen die reg op waardigheid en reputasie gebalanseer moet word.

Die leidende saak oor laster in Suid-Afrika is die saak van National Media Ltd en Ander v Bogoshi, wat die elemente van laster help bepaal het. In hierdie saak het die hof bevind dat ’n verklaring lasterlik kan wees as dit aan ’n derde party gepubliseer word, dit na die eiser verwys, dit onregmatig is, en dit skade aan die eiser se reputasie veroorsaak.

Om laster te bewys, moet die eiser bewys dat die verklaring vals was en dat dit met die bedoeling om die eiser se reputasie te benadeel, gemaak is. Die eiser moet ook bewys dat die verklaring aan ’n derde party gepubliseer is en dat dit skade aan hul reputasie veroorsaak het.

As ’n persoon skuldig bevind word aan laster, is daar ’n aantal regsmiddels beskikbaar vir die slagoffer. Dit sluit in skadevergoeding, ’n interdik, en ’n terugtrekking of regstelling. Skadevergoeding is die mees algemene regsmiddel in laster sake en word toegeken om die slagoffer te vergoed vir enige skade wat as gevolg van die laster gely is.

In Suid-Afrika is daar twee tipes skadevergoeding wat in laster sake toegeken kan word: algemene skadevergoeding en spesiale skadevergoeding. Algemene skadevergoeding word toegeken vir die skade wat deur die slagoffer se reputasie gely is, terwyl spesiale skadevergoeding toegeken word vir enige finansiële verliese wat as gevolg van die laster gely is, soos inkomste of besigheidsgeleenthede wat verloor word.

Naas skadevergoeding kan ’n slagoffer van laster ook ’n interdik eis om die publikasie van verdere lasterlike verklarings te voorkom. ’n Interdik is ’n hofbevel wat ’n persoon verbied om ’n bepaalde aksie te onderneem, soos die publikasie van lasterlike verklarings.

Ten slotte kan ’n regstelling of terugtrekking deur die slagoffer van laster aangevra word. Dit is ’n verklaring wat deur die verweerder gemaak word wat erken dat die verklaring vals was en verskoning vra vir die skade wat aan die slagoffer se reputasie veroorsaak is. Die slagoffer het ook die opsie om kriminele aanklagte vir laster aanhangig te maak.

Ter afsluiting, is laster ’n ernstige saak in die Suid-Afrikaanse reg en slagoffers van laster het ’n aantal regstellende middels tot hulle beskikking. Die toepaslike wetgewing en leidende regspraak verskaf ’n raamwerk om te bepaal of ‘n verklaring lasterlik is en die omvang van die skade wat deur die slagoffer gely is. Terwyl vryheid van spraak ’n fundamentele reg is, moet dit teen die reg op waardigheid en reputasie afgeweeg word, en diegene wat laster pleeg, moet verantwoordelik gehou word vir hul optrede.

 

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies.

Jan Fourie

Director |  Attorney, Notary & Conveyancer | BA. LLB

Jan graduated in 1974 with a five-year BA LLB degree from the University of Stellenbosch, whereafter he was admitted as an advocate and prosecuted as such in the Cape Town and Wynberg Courts. In 1974, he joined Swemmer & Levin as the Candidate Attorney of Mr Levin (founding member) and was admitted as an attorney on 7 April 1976, as a conveyancer on 11 January 1978, and as a Notary on 19 December 1984. Since 1974, he has served in various committees, including the West Coast Chamber of Commerce, the Vredenburg School Committee, and the Malgas Lions Club. 

Furthermore, Jan was the author of the first bilingual law book, The New Debt Collecting Procedures (Die Nuwe Skuldinvorderingsprosedures), which was used by all the Magistrate Courts throughout South Africa. With the founding of the Small Claims Court in Vredenburg, Jan served as one of the first Commissioners. He is currently based at Swemmer & Levin’s Vredenburg office and has been with our firm for more than 47 years.

Pieter Smit

Director | Attorney & Conveyancer | BA. LLB

Pieter obtained his BA Law degree from Stellenbosch University in 1995 and his LLB degree from the North-West University in Potchefstroom in 1998. He served his articles at Marais Muller Attorneys from 1998 to 1999 and was admitted as an attorney in 2000 and as a conveyancer in 2002. Pieter is the founder of PP Smit Attorneys, which opened its doors in 2004. He also became a director of Swemmer & Levin in 2006. Pieter loves the outdoors and participating in all forms of sport, including tennis, golf, fishing, spearfishing, scuba diving, and hiking. 

Johann Maree

Director | Attorney | BA. LLB

Johann matriculated at Oudtshoorn High School and attended Stellenbosch University, where he obtained his BA Law and LLB degrees. Following his studies, he worked for three years as State Prosecutor at the Magistrate’s Court in Cape Town. Johann completed his legal training with the State Attorney in Pretoria and then moved to his hometown, Oudtshoorn, where he worked as a lawyer for a year. In 1983, he finally moved to Vredenburg and joined Swemmer & Levin, where he is still practising as a director. When he is not in the office, Johann enjoys cycling and in his earlier days, he used to be a long-distance junkie.

Richard Phillips

Director | Attorney | Bcom & BProc

After matriculating at Paarl Boys’ High School, Richard completed his BCom and BProc degrees at the University of Port Elizabeth. He served his articles with Van Wyk Fouchee in Paarl and quickly developed an affinity for litigation. Richard has always had a deep love for the ocean and when he was presented with an opportunity to join Swemmer & Levin on the West Coast, he agreed without hesitation and has been with our firm since 1997. Richard specialises in general litigation and divorces. When he is not in the office or with his family, he tries to spend as much time as possible in or on the water.

Jandré Smith

Director | Attorney | LLB

Jandré grew up and matriculated in the small Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn. He furthered his studies at the North-West University in Potchefstroom, obtaining his LLB degree during 2015. He completed his articles at Swemmer & Levin in 2017 and was subsequently appointed as a professional assistant. In 2020, Jandré was promoted to the position of director at the firm, where he practises in the Litigation department at our Langebaan office. When not practising law, Jandré is an avid sports fan. He has a passion for nature and enjoys camping, trail running, and mountain biking with his family.

Andre van der Walt

Director | Attorney | LLB

Andre graduated in 2015 with an LLB degree from the University of Pretoria. He later went on to obtain his NQF 7 Certificate in the Administration of Deceased Estates from the University of South Africa, which allowed him to further his career in deceased estates and the drafting of wills and trusts. Andre served his articles at Barnard & Patel Attorneys under the supervision of Mr YAS Patel. After being admitted as an attorney in 2016, he continued working at Barnard & Patel Attorneys as a professional assistant in the deceased estates department.

Andre joined Van Rensburg Attorneys in 2019 and was head of the deceased estates department until 2021. He then received the opportunity to move to the West Coast, where he joined Swemmer & Levin Attorneys. Andre loves travelling and enjoys the beauty that our country has to offer with his friends, family, and loved ones.

Harmann Potgieter

Attorney | LLB

Harmann graduated in 2018 with an LLB degree from the North-West University’s Potchefstroom Campus. He went on to study and grow in various fields, including doing a course on the Consumer Protection Act and a course at the University of South Africa where he obtained his NQF 7 Certificate in the Administration of Deceased Estates.

Harmann completed his articles of clerkship at Swemmer & Levin under the supervision of Mr Richard Phillips. After being admitted as an attorney in 2020, Harmann continued with Swemmer & Levin as a professional assistant in the deceased estates department as well as the litigation department. He loves to study, possesses a deep curiosity about the world, and is dedicated to giving back to the community.

Carla Cloete

Attorney, Conveyancer & Notary | LLB

Carla obtained her LLB at the North West University, Potchefstroom Campus in 2015. She completed her articles in 2017 with Brits Dreyer Inc in Bellville. She is an admitted Attorney, Notary and Conveyancer. After her articles she relocated to Kimberley where she worked as a professional assistant in the Conveyancing department of Van de Wall Inc. Coming back to her Western Cape roots, she now joins the Swemmer & Levin team as a professional assistant.