Ferial Haffajee. Picture: © Sunday Times/SIMON MATHEBULA
Ferial Haffajee. Picture: © Sunday Times/SIMON MATHEBULA

FORMER City Press photo editor Denvor De Wee said on Monday he is considering taking further his dispute with his attorney over whether he entered into a settlement agreement with Media24 and former City Press editor Ferial Haffajee in his racism defamation court case.

The dispute between Media24, Haffajee and four former staffers — who alleged that she defamed them by calling them racists — was headed for court last week.

But just a couple of days before the hearing, News24’s attorney Andrew Boerner said the case had been settled, and this was confirmed by the staffers’ attorney Etienne van der Merwe.

However, De Wee said he did not sign a settlement agreement and instead withdrew from the case as he refused to be paid to go away.

On Monday, De Wee said he was "considering taking steps to clarify" the dispute with his lawyer.

Van Der Merwe could not be reached for comment.

Chairman of the Law Society of SA’s ethics committee, Krish Govender — speaking on general principle — said that acting contrary to a client’s instructions is considered a breach of attorneys’ ethics.

However, there was often a "grey area", especially when it came to settlement agreements where there were genuine misunderstandings or when a general mandate had been given, and a dispute arose about the specifics.

He said he would it would be rare to find an attorney take a chance and settle outside of a client’s mandate "because they know that the consequences can be quite serious".

De Wee said his court case was never about money. He wanted a public apology or at least an apology on the same platforms as the ones on which Haffajee’s statements were originally made.