The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on Monday ruled that the slogan, "worst 4X4Xfar" pasted along the side of an Isuzu bakkie did not defame General Motors SA.

The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on Monday ruled that the slogan, "worst 4X4Xfar" pasted along the side of an Isuzu bakkie did not defame General Motors SA.


Early in May, judgment was reserved in an appeal court bid by the former Delta Motor Corporation to censure Jaco van der Merwe, who said the chassis of his Isuzu bakkie bent three years ago while he was on holiday in Namibia. The bakkie was just over a year old, and Van der Merwe claimed the damage was caused by an inherent defect that Delta refused to replace or repair.

Delta argued the damage was caused by driver abuse and Van der Merwe launched an e-mail campaign after which the matter was taken to court by Delta. The case was later taken to the Supreme Court of Appeals to contest the plaintiff's constitutional right to freedom of speech.

GMSA said the reason it became involved in the protracted legal case involving the Isuzu bakkie and its bent chassis was to protect the its brand and it did not want customers who supported Isuzu to suffer if the brand was devalued by defamatory statements.

Doug Harrison, director after sales of GMSA, on Monday said: "It is important that members of the public understand that this case has not been about the integrity of our products, an issue which was not dealt with in these proceedings. The issue involves defamation and Mr Jaco van der Merwe's right to freedom of expression.

"Had there been any doubt in our minds regarding the integrity of our products, we would not have continued to pursue legal action."

Harrison went on to say GMSA now viewed "this matter to be closed."