Jacob Zuma loses Constitutional Court bid in Hanekom defamation case

Former president Jacob Zuma's application for leave to appeal in the Derek Hanekom defamation case was dismissed by the Constitutional Court.
Former president Jacob Zuma's application for leave to appeal in the Derek Hanekom defamation case was dismissed by the Constitutional Court.
Image: THULI DLAMINI

The Constitutional Court has dismissed former president Jacob Zuma’s leave to appeal application in the defamation case brought by former minister Derek Hanekom.

The application was dismissed with costs on the grounds that there was no reasonable prospect of success.

Zuma was taken to court by Hanekom after he tweeted that Hanekom was a “known enemy agent”. The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed Zuma’s bid to appeal against a high court ruling that found he had defamed the former minister.

Durban high court judge Dhaya Pillay in September 2019 ordered Zuma to remove the tweet and publish an apology within 24 hours.

Hanekom, former tourism minister in Zuma's administration, sued Zuma for R500,000 in damages after the former president's tweet in July 2019.

Hanekom said it caused him “immense harm and damage”, giving the impression that he was an apartheid spy.

Zuma in turn argued, in an affidavit, that there were “common cause events” that demonstrated Hanekom had “colluded with opposition parties that sought to remove me as president”.

The tweet by Zuma was in response to EFF leader Julius Malema claiming that Hanekom had met with the red berets to plot a plan to “oust Zuma” from office.

Judge Pillay said in the 2019 ruling that the litigation between them was a proxy for the internal conflict within the ANC.

“Lawfare is a consequence of the failure of dialogue and politics ... it is a battle or skirmish in the overall war for dominance and control by one or other faction. The courts will resolve this dispute, but it would take much more to resolve the conflict,” said Pillay.


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