Freedom of expression versus protection from defamation: A constitutional conundrum

Defamation is defined as:

“[sicfreedom of speech] is the intentional infringement of another’s rights to his good name or more comprehensively, the wrongful, intentional, publication of words or behaviour concerning another which has the tendency to undermine his/her status, good name or reputation”.

The case of RM V RB dealt with the above definition and the right to freedom of expression. The aforementioned case concerned an application for an interdict restraining the respondent from posting further defamatory postings or comments about the applicant on her Facebook page.[1]

The facts are as follows: RB and RM had been in a relationship and were the parents of a 5-year-old daughter. In terms of an arrangement between the parties, RM had contact with his daughter every alternative weekend. RB had made certain postings on her Facebook page relating to the circumstances of RM’s care of the minor, specifically referring to the use of alcohol and drugs.

[1] RM v RB 2015 (1) SA 270 (KZP)


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