Judgement was reserved in an Appeal Court bid by Delta Motor Corporation on Monday to silence an irate client who had been publicly condemning the manufacturer since his Isuzu bakkie broke down three years ago.

Judgement was reserved in an Appeal Court bid by Delta Motor Corporation on Monday to silence an irate client who had been publicly condemning the manufacturer since his Isuzu bakkie broke down three years ago.

CARtoday.com reported last year that the dispute arose in April 2001 when the chassis of Jaco van der Merwe's bakkie was bent while 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 had refused to replace of repair.

Delta argued the damage was caused by driver abuse, after which van der Merwe launched a chain e-mail campaign denouncing the company. Signs were fixed to his bakkie reading "the worst 4X4Xfar" and he started displaying the distorted bakkie at motor shows.

The matter was taken to court by Delta, which was granted an interim interdict in June 2002. This prevented van der Merwe from exhibiting his bakkie or publishing defamatory statements about the company's products until a final court ruling.

When the matter came before court again, acting Judge Roger Claasen refused to confirm the interim order and held that the slogans and e-mails were not defamatory.

Delta launched an appeal with the Supreme Court of Appeals after the Pretoria High Court's decision. The manufacturer maintained van der Merwe's conduct was defamatory and contested his argument that his constitutional right to freedom of speech protected his actions.