Now here’s a story.
A few years ago the high-jump star Hestrie Cloete left her husband for the Afrikaans singer Jurie Els. Last month, the newly married couple announced that they were emigrating to New Zealand. Els said they were fed-up with crime, lack of service delivery and bad management. “I am tired of driving through potholes for four hours to get to a concert, and when I get there, the power is off … people are concerned about their safety and don’t come to concerts at night,” the singer said at one of his farewell concerts. “We are trying to make a statement as a wake-up call to the government.”
Since then, the letters pages of Beeld have been sizzling with reaction, both in support and condemnation of the Els’s decision to leave the country of their birth. Columnist Dana Snyman called Els an “ungrateful traitor” who had made a fortune in South Africa without doing anything to improve the things he had complained about. Max Du Preez penned a hilarious spoof about President Mbeki’s reaction to the “wake-up call”.
Meanwhile, a seemingly unrelated story had been playing itself out in the pages of Beeld. Singer Robbie Klay told the newspaper that he had been molested for seven years by a man who is very well known in the Afrikaans music industry. Klay (21) didn’t name the man, and neither did Beeld. But after the story appeared, others have come forward, saying they knew who Klay was talking about and they had also been molested by the same man. Still, Beeld refrained from publishing his name. But Huisgenoot and You had no such qualms. They planned to run Klay’s story today, naming the alleged culprit. The man got to know about this, and launched an urgent application in the High Court to silence the magazines. Judge RT Sutherland granted an interdict restraining Huisgenoot and You from running the article.
This in itself is a story, because the learned judge seems not to have taken account of last year’s Supreme Court of Appeals ruling that prior restraint is hardly ever an appropriate remedy. Be that as it may, in launching the application, the man shot himself in the foot. Because in South Africa, crime-ridden and badly managed as it may be, court proceedings are open and public. And so we know, and may legally publish the fact, that the applicant in the proceedings against Huisgenoot and You was none other than … Jurie Els, now in New Zealand.