M-Net on Wednesday morning confirmed to Gareth Cliff’s legal team that it will oppose the legal case filed against it.
The former Idols SA judge filed an urgent application to the High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday, to have him reinstated as a judge on the talent show, after he was axed for a response to a racist tweet by KZN estate agent Penny Sparrow.
Cliff is suing the broadcaster for R 25m, of which R5m is for defamation of character.
Cliff’s lawyer, Eric Mabuza, confirmed to The Juice that M-Net is opposing the application.
“M-Net has simply told us that they are opposing the application. Their formal response is expected on Thursday,” Mabuza said.
The broadcaster is expected to provide supporting documents by close of business on Thursday detailing reasons for the decision.
In a statement released on Wednesday, M-Net confirmed that it disputes Cliff’s claims and will file an affidavit in due course.
“M-Net can confirm that an urgent application by Gareth Cliff has been received. While we respect his decision to seek legal recourse, we dispute his claims and will be filing an answering affidavit in due course,” said a media statement from the South African broadcaster.
Meanwhile, the legal battle is set to get underway in the High Court in Johannesburg on 26 January.
If the judge rules against Cliff’s reinstatement as a judge on the talent show, a second court order is expected to be lodged to stop auditions which is due to take place in Durban on 30 January.
The matter, which has gripped the attention of the entire nation has also sparked widespread debate on social media.
On Tuesday evening Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula came out strongly against Cliff’s lawsuit.
“M-Net should tell him to go jump over his surname,” Mbalula tweeted.