Akani takes Daily News and IOL to court for publishing false and defamatory articles about the company and its founder, Zamani Letjane

Court image law

Akani Retirement Fund Administrators (Akani) and its founder and Managing Director, Zamani Letjane have launched legal action to compel a Durban-based newspaper, Daily News and Independent Online (IOL) to retract false, defamatory and egregious articles published a few days ago.

 In a well-orchestrated campaign to defame, harm and denigrate the good names of Akani and Letjane, the Daily News and IOL published the following articles: “Akani boss Zamani Letjane accused of “unsavoury” relationship with Financial Sector Conduct Authority” (30 November) and “Akani Retirement Fund MD in hot water over claims of extortion and failing to hand over documents” (6 December).

 Letjane has assured his stakeholders, clients and employees that the unsubstantiated allegations in the media and social media platforms are baseless, unsubstantiated, devoid of truth and “we strongly believe they will not stand the scrutiny of our justice system” hence they have decided to take the matter to court.

Borrowing from the gutter journalism book – Akani was only approached for a right of reply literally a few minutes before the stories were published – clearly the intention was ambush Akani and Letjane instead of the standard practice of sending questions and give the company reasonably sufficient to respond.

Compounding matters is that Independent Newspapers – owners of Daily News and IOL – do not subscribe to the Press Ombudsman that regulates the conduct of journalists rather preferring their own internal Ombud process which has, at the best of times, proven prejudicial to the complainants.

 It is for these reasons that Akani have opted for the legal route to seek relief and defend its hard-earned reputation built over the past 20 years. “This is a classic case of the manipulation and abuse of a media platform to peddle nefarious agendas against Akani with the intention to derail our business growth and cast doubt on our credibility. They will not succeed,” added Letjane. 

 The legal bid by Akani is subsequent to the Daily News and IOL failing to adhere to the demands that the newspaper retract the articles and publish a public apology without delay.

 Letjane has assured his stakeholders, clients and employees that this is an unnecessary distraction for the Akani business, which he believes will be settled expeditiously and allow the business to forge ahead with its growth ambitions in Southern Africa, including expanding its business activities in Lesotho where they have recently opened offices.