While an independent course has been set in recent years, defamation law in Southern Africa retains much in common with defamation law in common law jurisdictions. 1 This is especially true of the traditional elements of the prima facie case: publication by the defendant of a defamatory statement about the plaintiff. (No distinction is drawn between libel and slander.) In a majority of the cases discussed below, the presence of one of these elements was at issue. Also received into Southern African law have been the defence of truth (justification) and the various privileges, including fair comment. 2
Whether the defendant's statement was defamatory or capable of conveying a defamatory meaning is the subject of numerous reported judgments.
In Schoeman v. Potter, 3 a magazine article written by the defendant described his encounter with the plaintiff some years earlier. In conjunction with references to the plaintiff's wealth and eccentricity, the article said, "He was that queer combination of____________________