Jacob Zuma loses Constitutional Court bid in Hanekom defamation case
Constitutional Court says there is 'no prospect of success' as former president tries yet again to avoid paying R500,000 to minister he defamed
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.
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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 saying that Hanekom had met 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.
“False accusations are irresponsible and dangerous,” Hanekom said in a statement reacting to the ruling.
He said the country was going through a difficult time.
“While our law enforcement agencies are investigating and bringing to the book those who have over years pillaged and looted our country, a new scourge of corruption and looting is unfolding.
“Those involved in this disgraceful conduct have raised the ire of society at large. Now is the time for us to unite behind the efforts of President [Cyril] Ramaphosa to put an end to these manifestations of greed and heartless destruction of the very fabric that makes up our diverse nation,” Hanekom said.