Former minister Derek Hanekom has welcomed Thursday’s court ruling dismissing former President Jacob Zuma’s bid to appeal a recent ruling on his “enemy agent” tweet.
In a statement, Hanekom said, “I sincerely hope that this matter – which has caused so much unnecessary division and pain – can finally be laid to rest.”
Judge Dhaya Pillay of the High Court in Pietermaritzburg dismissed Zuma’s application for leave to appeal with costs.
Zuma ‘conceded’ that Hanekom is not an apartheid spy
In his statement, Hanekom said Zuma had conceded in his court papers that he does not regard him as an apartheid spy or question his struggle credentials.
He added, “It is reversing the scourges of poverty, unemployment and inequality and building a united, non-racial, democratic society that must preoccupy us all.”
Zuma has not yet reacted to the ruling. It’s unclear at this stage what his next legal step would be. If he fails to take his appeal further, he would be compelled to pay damages to Hanekom.
In a hearing earlier this week, Zuma’s lawyer Thabani Masuku argued that the tweet had been taken out of context.
Zuma vs Hanekom: How it started
In July, Zuma tweeted that Hanekom was “a known enemy agent” following a revelation by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema that he had met them to discuss Zuma’s removal from office.
He wrote, “I’m not surprised by @Julius_S_Malema revelations regarding @Derek_Hanekom. It is part of the plan I mentioned at the Zondo Commission. @Derek_Hanekom is a known enemy agent.”
Hanekom subsequently hauled the former President to court for defamation. He demanded a retraction, apology and R500,000 in damages.
Although Zuma opposed Hanekom’s lawsuit, he lost in early September. The court ruled that the tweet was “untrue, defamatory and unlawful.”
It also ordered Zuma to delete the tweet and publish an apology to Hanekom. However, Zuma filed leave to appeal, which has now been dismissed.
The former President has maintained all along that his tweet only referred to how Hanekom “connived with enemies and opposition parties” to remove him as president.