Former Cabinet minister and ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) member Derek Hanekom is suing former president Jacob Zuma for defamation.
Hanekom’s legal move was prompted by a tweet on July 25 in which Zuma referred to Hanekom as a “known enemy agent.”
The former president is opposing the court application by the former Tourism Minister who is seeking a retraction, an apology, and damages over Zuma’s claims that Hanekom was an apartheid-era spy.
Hanekom is suing Zuma for R500,000 over the claims which he says are “false and defamatory.”
Mac Maharaj, who once did Zuma’s bidding as his presidential spokesperson, has backed Hanekom and Siphiwe Nyanda, both of whom have been accused of being agents and spies by their former ANC leader.
Maharaj was speaking to eNCA Tuesday, just hours after it emerged that Hanekom had filed papers in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court, seeking to have Zuma’s comments about him on Twitter declared defamatory and false.
Zuma’s Twitter post came after EFF leader Julius Malema alleged that Hanekom conspired with his party to oust Zuma via a motion of no confidence in the National Assembly.
Hanekom said Zuma’s tweet implied that he was part of a plan hatched by the apartheid government and foreign intelligence agencies to remove Zuma as president.
Hanekom’s defamation case is first legal action to be taken against Zuma over his allegations that ANC leadership may have been infiltrated by foreign intelligence and apartheid spies.
Hanekom also reportedly wants the court to order Zuma to delete the tweet and then to “unconditionally withdraw his spy claim, acknowledge that it was entirely false” and apologise.
Hanekom then wants the court to order Zuma to tweet: “On 25 July 2019, I published a tweet which alleges that Mr Derek Hanekom is a known enemy agent. I unconditionally withdraw this allegation and apologise for making it as it is entirely false. I have no basis whatsoever for asserting that Mr Hanekom is a known enemy agent.”
He further wants Zuma to be “interdicted from publishing any statement that says or implies that he is or was an enemy agent or apartheid spy.”
Hanekom served in Zuma’s Cabinet in various positions, the last being tourism minister, despite him being outspoken against the former president and openly voicing concerns over state capture.
Zuma came out guns blazing when he appeared before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in July.
Among other things, he waved around a piece of paper and said he had a list of names, presumably of ANC leaders, who worked as apartheid and American spies.
He also named Ngoako Ramatlhodi, the former minister of mineral resources who Zuma fired and replaced with Mosebenzi Zwane, as an apartheid spy recruited in Lesotho.
“I have been patient… but I have been provoked to the last degree,” Zuma told the commission.
Ramatlhodi immediately challenged Zuma to take a lie detector test.