South African Airways (SAA) has obtained an urgent interdict against Moneyweb, as well as BDFM and Media24, preventing us from publishing the content of a legal opinion prepared by SAA General Manager Legal, Risk and Compliance Ursula Fikelepi.
The document focused on the financial risks of the national carrier related to the Airbus deal. It is dated November 6 and was signed by Fikelepi and now ex-CEO Thuli Mpshe.
In the founding affidavit Fikelepi says: “On 29 October 2015 I was requested by EXCO to provide a legal opinion to the Board of the SAA. My advice was sought on the legal risks and implications for the rights and obligations of the applicant arising out of correspondence from Airbus G.I.E. dated 2 and 26 October 2015 related to a potential dispute between applicant and Airbus over a transaction related to the purchase and swop of Airbus aircraft. My advice was sought in confidence.”
Moneyweb has complied with the court order and removed the article from our various online platforms, but is seeking legal advice to have the order set aside.
Moneyweb originally published the article at around 9pm on Monday evening. SAA finally obtained the court order in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
In the urgent application papers Fikelepi did not deny the content of the document, but claimed that it was subject to legal privilege and therefore should not have been published.
She also claimed that Moneyweb did not indicate that it wanted to publish an article about the legal opinion in question and accordingly SAA did not approach for the court order earlier.
The Moneyweb article was published after journalist Antoinette Slabbert obtained a copy of the report over the weekend. Slabbert approached the SAA for comment on Sunday, but spokesperson Tlali Tlali did not provide answers to Slabbert’s questions before the time of publishing.