I never said Hanekom was an apartheid agent, Zuma argues

Former president Jacob Zuma at the Zondo commission. (Gallo Images)
Former president Jacob Zuma at the Zondo commission. (Gallo Images)

Judgment has been reserved in the defamation case between senior ANC leader Derek Hanekom and former president Jacob Zuma.

Hanekom took former president Jacob Zuma to court to the tune of R500 000 for defamation following a tweet on July 25 which Zuma referred to Hanekom as a "known enemy agent".

Zuma was reacting to EFF leader Julius Malema's claims that Hanekom conspired with the party to oust him via a motion of no confidence in the National Assembly.

Hanekom's lawyers submitted that to call someone who fought for liberation, an apartheid government a spy was defamatory, false and had caused significant harm to Hanekom's reputation.

Judge Dhaya Pillay of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban said on Friday that she hoped to deliver her judgment in the matter by next week.

'Malema didn't talk about apartheid'

Zuma's lawyers argued that "known enemy agent" should be interpreted in the context of the current political conflict in the country and should not be linked to the apartheid era.

When judge Pillay asked who the term enemy referred to, Zuma's lawyer Muzi Sikhakhane submitted that the EFF and other political parties were the enemy.

Hanekom's lawyer Carol Steinberg argued that he only met with one member of the EFF and "he did not plot and connive" to remove Zuma as president through the motion of no confidence against him.

Sikhakhane said Zuma meant Hanekom was the enemy of the ANC for working with other parties to oust him as the president of the country.

"He is known to Zuma as an enemy agent for working with other parties who are against the ANC," said Sikhakhane reiterating that the "known enemy agent" should be interpreted that way.

He said there was nothing in Malema's revelation that talked about apartheid.

"Malema doesn't talk about apartheid but the ousting of Zuma as the president," he said.


Judge Pillay probed further, asking what Zuma's tweet meant when he mentioned the sentence during his testimony at the Zondo Commission of inquiry into state capture.

Sikhakhane again said that must be interpreted in the context of the plan to oust him.

"Malema doesn't talk about apartheid, but the ousting. It's unreasonable to move to the apartheid period," he said.

Sikhakhane submitted that there was harm in some other statements tweeted subsequent to Zuma's tweet, but attaching that harm to Zuma's tweet was incorrect.

It was "incompetent" to interdict Zuma from "saying certain things" when he testifies at the Zondo Commission into State Capture, Sikhakhane said.

'Just a political speech'

Steinberg had earlier argued they want the court to rule that Zuma's tweet was defamatory and false.

She said they want Zuma to remove his twitter statement within 24 hours from all social media platforms, delete the tweet from his Twitter account and apologise, and pay R500 000 for damages.

Hanekom's lawyers also said they wanted Zuma to be interdicted from telling the commission that Hanekom was an apartheid spy.

Steinberg said, according to Zuma's answering affidavits, he said he "may" still testify at the commission that Hanekom was a spy.

"He is compelled to give that evidence if it is true and he can back it up," argued Sikhakhane.

He said Zuma's tweet should be treated as just a political speech.

"This is a matter that shouldn't be here, it's an abuse of court processes. It doesn't belong to our courts," Sikhakhane argued.

EFF and I had 'common concerns' - Hanekom

Hanekom told journalists after the court had adjourned that he did not regret having a discussion with EFF secretary general Godrich Gardee.

"Not at all because at that time we had some joint concerns about what was happening in our country. In fact, it just so happens that my discussion with Godrich came out into the public domain. I didn't enter into any negotiations or any kind of plotting or colluding with the EFF, but we did have common concerns," he said.

Hanekom said he was one of the first people to raise, at an ANC NEC meeting, that it was in the best interest of the ANC and "of our country" for Zuma to stand down as president of the country, "not the ANC because he was elected as ANC president".

A return date has yet to be set.

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