Defamation of character claims can be tricky, as our Courts always try to preserve freedom of expression as enshrined in Section 16 of our Constitution. But at the same time, the right to freedom of expression can also be limited and may not encroach on any other person’s rights, in this case the right to an untainted reputation.
As such, the complexity of a claim for defamation lies in this balance that needs to be maintained between two fundamental rights and testing those rights to what the broader society finds acceptable or unacceptable. With changing morals in modern society, it might become even harder in the near future to prove a defamatory comment.
In legal terms “defamation” refers to any statement that is made or published with the effect of damaging the good reputation of another person. The person who has been defamed by this statement will have legal recourse and is able to claim damages from the person who made the harmful or defamatory statements.
The question is: how do you prove defamation and what is your right to recourse in terms of South African law?