Hanekom wants Zuma to apologise for spy tweet
Court papers detail ‘severe harm’ caused to ex-minister
FORMER minister of tourism Derek Hanekom wants former president Jacob Zuma to apologise for alleging that he was a “known enemy agent” who had worked for the apartheid government.
Hanekom has filed an application, which is to be heard on August 21 in the Durban High Court, in which he has asked the court to find that the tweet posted about him by Zuma was “defamatory and false”, that the former president should be ordered to remove the statement from all platforms within 24 hours, and apologise on Twitter and retract and denounce the damaging tweet as false within 24 hours of a judgment being handed down.
He further asked the court to interdict Zuma from making any further statement that implies that he “is or was an enemy agent or an apartheid spy”.
He is also seeking damages of R500 000 or alternatively that Zuma be found liable to pay damages with the quantum to be decided after the court heard oral evidence.
According to court papers, Zuma published his tweet two days after EFF leader Julius Malema tweeted that “Hanekom gave us the list of the ANC MPs who were going to vote with us in the vote of no confidence against Jacob Zuma”. Malema also tweeted: “Today he calls us fascists, but Derek Hanekom plotted with the EFF to bring down President Zuma.”
In his affidavit to support the application, Hanekom said that Zuma had used Malema’s statement as a “springboard to say that I am an enemy agent in context of the evidence he gave at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud”.
Zuma tweeted on July 25: “I am 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 said the “nub” of the testimony that Zuma gave at the commission was that “the ‘plan’ against him was the work of, among others, apartheid spies who had infiltrated the ANC… the statement was intended by Mr Zuma and understood by those who read it to mean that I was an apartheid spy and part of a plan to infiltrate the ANC and assassinate Mr Zuma’s character”.
Hanekom said the “highly defamatory” tweet had been posted to Zuma’s 323 000 followers, had received 1 817 comments and was retweeted 2 902 times from Zuma’s account.
He said Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma had also retweeted the statement to his 31 000 followers.
“As a result of publication of the statement many others have posted harmful statements about me on social media,” Hanekom said in his founding affidavit.
He said that the statement had led to him being treated with “severe aversion, suspicion, distrust and hostility” by many people, including other ANC members.
“The statement has also caused severe harm and embarrassment to my family, including my wife, who has been subjected to abuse on social media,” Hanekom added.
He said it had cast aspersions on his character and integrity.
“The allegations contained in the statement are without any basis or fact. I am not and have never been a spy for the apartheid government or any other authority for that matter”.
He said in court papers that he had last month sent a letter of demand both to Zuma at Nkandla and to his attorney to request the retraction of the post and an apology, but apart from a letter of acknowledgement from Zuma’s attorney, he had not received a response to the demand by the stipulated August 2 deadline.
Hanekom responded to a request for comment from The Mercury yesterday via text message, saying: “Sorry, I have decided not to do any interviews for now.”
Hanekom’s attorney, Dario Milo, said Zuma had filed a notice of his intention to oppose the matter but had not yet filed a responding affidavit.
Zuma’s spokesperson, Vukile Mathabela, and his attorney, Lungisani Mantsha, could not be reached for comment yesterday despite repeated attempts to contact them.