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Casilli sues Facebook and Zambia Watchdog

Casilli sues Facebook and Zambia Watchdog
By MICHAEL MIYOBA
LUSAKA businessman Diego Casilli has sued the Zambia Watchdog and Facebook in the High Court of South Africa for defamation owing to articles they published alleging that he was the cause of a fatality which happened two years ago at Lewanika Mall where a wall demolition carried out by a third party contractor collapsed and killed one person..
Mr. Casilli is demanding more than US$3 million for damages.
It is alleged that Mr. Casilli, who is the Director of Lewanika Mall, has incurred a lot of losses including losing business partners from the time the article “Here is the man responsible for the Woodlands Stadium disaster,” was published on July 20, 2019 by the Zambia Watchdog which operate under untraceable VPNs and was registered under false names and addresses.
It is alleged that because of the said article published by Watchdog, Mr. Casilli and his businesses were denied several vital loans in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic where they were desperately needed to maintain business operations that employ an estimated 300 individuals on full-time basis.
He said he was recently denied the ability to incorporate a company because of the articles which are cited as the reasons for the denial despite the posts having been removed two years after the first complaint was made to Facebook.
“The damage is ongoing. More posts have appeared from similar pseudo-journalists and requests to remove them are further ignored.
“My reputation and my businesses have taken severe strain and members of my family have suffered financial and emotional loss. Since these posts we have even had threats and a security threat at our home,” Mr. Casilli said.
And Mr. Cassilli’s attorney Johan Van Zyl of Swanepoel van Zyl Inc noted that Facebook has been deliberately obstructive in its conduct throughout the matter.
“Upon receiving the report on their platform the post could simply have been removed moreover despite our letters requesting the removal, Facebook persisted in keeping the post on their app for many months while Casilli was required to issue process out of high court and to join Facebook in the USA. This has incurred significant legal costs that could have been avoided had they merely accepted Mr Casilli’s reasonable request,” Van Zyl said.
It is alleged that in its response to Mr. Casilli’s attorneys, Facebook’s US legal representatives claimed that Facebook was unable to act on the request as it was not clear to them that the article which Mr. Casilli reported constitutes defamation, violates his rights or is otherwise unlawful.
Commencement of trial has been set for January 24, 2022 in the High Court of South Africa with Facebook South Africa (Proprietary) Limited, Zambia Watchdog and Facebook INC listed as the first, second and third respondents respectively.

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