Executive Chairman of IT service provider Gijima, Robert Gumede is reportedly preparing a lawsuit against the Independent Newspapers group, after the group published an article over the weekend in which they claimed that he was the subject of a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe. The lawsuit is rumoured to be worth R1-billion in damages.
According to news website IOL, “A multi-million rand contract awarded to ANC benefactor Robert Gumede’s company is now the subject of a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe authorised by President Jacob Zuma. Zuma signed the proclamation for the SIU to investigate the tender awarded by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to the billionaire’s JSE-listed IT firm, Gijima.”
Gumede’s lawyers sent a letter the Independent Newspapers, outlining the details of the suit. “The lawyers have been instructed to institute legal proceedings against Independent News and Media South Africa; the executive chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé; the group executive editor, Karima Brown, journalist Mogomotsi Magome; and the acting editor of the Sunday Independent, Japhet Ncube.”
“Our clients intend instituting legal proceedings for a civil claim against the aforementioned parties for defamation which claim may very well be the largest defamation claim ever pursued in South Africa,” they said.
Gijima CEO Eileen Wilton said that the company was only made aware of the investigation through The Sunday Independent newspaper.
“Gijima welcomes the investigation and are willing to cooperate and look forward to a speedy and successful conclusion of the investigation,” Wilton told the publication.
According to IOL, Gumede is a major shareholder in Gijima through Guma Tech, Guma Support, Guma Investment Holdings and Guma Tech Group, which jointly own about 36.5 percent of the company. He also has interests in Seekers Travel, Gen Technologies and Tourvest, among others.
Gijima reported a $21-million loss for the year ended June 2013, from a prior loss of $5-million in 2012.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor