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Jacob Zuma vs Derek Hanekom - A timeline of the 'apartheid spy' battle

06 November 2019 - 12:05 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Former president Jacob Zuma maintains his tweet about Derek Hanekom being an 'enemy agent' was taken out of context.
Former president Jacob Zuma maintains his tweet about Derek Hanekom being an 'enemy agent' was taken out of context.

Former president Jacob Zuma on Tuesday maintained, through his lawyer Mpilo Sikhakhane, that his tweet about Derek Hanekom being an “enemy agent” was taken out of context.

This was said in court as Zuma's and Hanekom's lawyers argued their cases in the absence of the ANC stalwarts. 

Here is a timeline of how and when it all started:

Malema exposes Hanekom and EFF's plan - July 2019 

EFF leader Julius Malema exposed what had been a long kept secret that the former ANC tourism minister Derek Hanekom met with the party to plot a plan to oust Zuma from office. The EFF at the time had been calling for a motion of no confidence against Zuma.

“Today he calls us fascists, but Derek Hanekom plotted with the EFF to bring down President Zuma. The same goes with Solly Mapaila [deputy general secretary of the South African Communist Party] too.” 

Zuma says 'not surprised' by Hanekom's plot - July 2019 

Shortly after Malema's revelations, Zuma took to Twitter where he said he was not shocked as Hanekom is “a known enemy agent”. Zuma's tweet was met with a R500,000 lawsuit by Derek Hanekom, who claimed it had caused him “immense harm and damage.” 

Zuma files his opposing affidavit - August 2019 

The former president filed his response to Hanekom's defamation claim at the high court in Durban in August. Hanekom sought a court order to force Zuma to delete the tweet and pronounce it as false. He also wanted the court to prohibit Zuma from making similar statements about him in future.

Zuma says 'Hanekom is the enemy' - August 2019

In his response, Zuma maintained that Hanekom was the enemy. He cited “common cause events” which proved that Hanekom was working with the opposition parties to oust him from office.

“As my tweet demonstrates, my removal was part of a broad plan by those opposed to the wishes and objectives of the party... By his own admission he is in conflict with positions the ANC held to plot my removal. He was part of, if not the initiator of, the grand plan.”

Zuma called Hanekom's collusion with the opposition parties a betrayal of the ANC.

Court orders Zuma to delete tweet, apologise to Hanekom - September 2019

Durban high court judge Dhaya Pillay ruled that Zuma's tweet was false, defamatory, and ordered the former president to apologise to Hanekom. Pillay ordered Zuma to delete the tweet within 24 hours, which Zuma has not done, one month later.

After the judgment it was reported that Zuma's lawyers had filed notice that they would seek leave to appeal the ruling.

Zuma's lawyer says tweet was taken out of context - October 2019

On Tuesday, both Zuma's and Hanekom's lawyers appeared before the Pietermaritzburg high court, where both sides argued their cases.

“It [the tweet] happens in a political debate, started by Hanekom. Mr Zuma did not mention apartheid spy at any point. He did not mention that Hanekom was a spy. He doesn't by a long shot mention that,” said Sikhakhane of Zuma's tweet.

Hanekom's lawyer, Advocate Carol Steinberg, argued that the tweet screams apartheid spy. Steinberg also pointed out that it was not the first time an ANC party leader had been voted out of office.

"It is a well-known fact Mr Zuma voted Mr [Thabo] Mbeki out, but would he refer to himself as an enemy agent? No one would."

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