Media owner Iqbal Survé has filed a R100m defamation claim against a journalist and publishing giant Media24, says a TimesLIVE report. The chair of Independent Media said a 2016 article by Terry Bell, published on Fin24.com, painted him as a narcissist and a liar.

In papers filed in the Western Cape High Court (Cape Town) on Friday, Survé said the article – ‘Fact-checking Iqbal Survé's bold bio leaves more questions’ – impugned his reputation and good standing in the media industry. Bell's article said Survé had lied about having a close relationship with Nelson Mandela and Ahmed Kathrada; about having trained as a mahout elephant handler; and about having assisted Bafana Bafana and the Indian cricket team.

Attorneys for Survé said they were suing Bell, Media24 and its former CEO Esmaré Weideman, who was described in the papers as the Fin24 editor.

The accusations and statements are … wrongful and defamatory … intended to mean that Survé is dishonest and a liar,’ the summons said. ‘(They) carry the additional sting of being disparaging of Survé … that he is vain, arrogant and narcissistic.’

Bell dismissed Survé's R100m claim as ‘an absolute joke’.

‘There are far more important things in life to occupy one's thoughts with,’ he said. ‘It has taken him all this time to rush to court and at the time of writing I gave him every opportunity to respond. I suspect he's trying to muddy the water as he may have gotten wind about a book that's to be published about his exploits, in October. He wants to position himself as a victim of white monopoly capital.’

Media24 is to defend the lawsuit.

Full TimesLIVE report

In the article at issue, Bell wrote that Survé may have fabricated a great deal of his background, says a Fin24 report. ‘In particular, there seems no independent evidence of his major claim to fame: that he was the personal friend of, and physician to, former President Nelson Mandela.’

Bell states that Mandela left Robben Island in 1982 for Pollsmoor Prison when Survé was a junior medical student at the University of Cape Town. In papers by the Harvard Business School, Survé also claims Rivonia trialist Ahmed Kathrada as a mentor.

However, Bell quotes Kathrada as saying in the article: ‘I don’t think I have ever been a mentor to anyone. I don’t know the man personally.’

Full Fin24 report