South Gauteng High Court Judge Sharise Weiner today (12 November 2014) ruled that the anti-Cell C billboard at the World Wear shopping centre can stay up.
Judge Weiner ruled that the application is not urgent and dismissed it on this basis, saying that Cell C should have brought the application on 23 October when Prokas first threatened to put it up.
In her ruling Judge Weiner said that Cell C misused the court’s rules by bringing an urgent application.
“It appears that the damage – if any – has already been done,” said Judge Weiner
The banner was put up by one George Prokas at the WorldWear Mall on Beyers Naude Drive on November 6.
It bears a logo resembling the Cell C one and read: “The most useless service provider in SA – Cell C Sandton City.”
It gave the name of the franchise manager and his phone number, claiming he had said that his “unnamed executive head refuses to assist the customer”.
Christopher Whittcutt, for Cell C, argued on Wednesday (12 November) that the banner was a defamatory statement.
Shem Symon, for Prokas, questioned how the cellphone provider could ask for an interim interdict for something that had already happened.
“I don’t really understand, after it has already happened and after it has gone viral,” he said.
The dispute arose from a phone Prokas had taken up for his son with Cell C in 2013. The phone’s indicated number turned out to belong to and was being used by a different person, who ran up a bill of R5,000.
When attempting to buy a car earlier in 2014, Prokas discovered he was listed as a bad debtor as a result of the unpaid R5,000.
He sought to have the bill waived by Cell C but that did not happen. Prokas exchanged e-mails with Cell C, indicating he would put the banner up unless his complaints were dealt with.
Earlier this week, the billboard was vandalised with positive messages replacing the negative ones.
Black paint was used to remove the negative messages, and white spray-paint used to change the original messages.
The main message was changed from “The most useless service provider in SA” to “The most useful service provider in SA”.
The other message, which listed a Cell C employee’s name, mobile number, and the message “his unnamed executive head refuses to assist the customer” was also removed. It now reads “We love Cell C”.
Reporting with Sapa.