South Africa


Zuma’s Constitutional Court application for leave to appeal Hanekom defamation ruling dismissed

Zuma’s Constitutional Court application for leave to appeal Hanekom defamation ruling dismissed
Derek Hanekom (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Jaco Marais); Jacob Zuma (EPA)

The Constitutional Court has dismissed former president Jacob Zuma’s application for leave to appeal the defamation ruling which ordered him to remove a tweet where he called former tourism minister, Derek Hanekom, a “known enemy agent”. It’s almost a year since the KZN high court ordered Zuma to remove the tweet. He has yet to comply.

On Friday, former president Jacob Zuma’s application for leave to appeal a defamation ruling ordering him to apologise to the former tourism minister and ANC NEC member, Derek Hanekom, was dismissed by the Constitutional Court.

The court dismissed Zuma’s application “as it bears no reasonable prospects of success”.

In July 2019, Zuma tweeted: 

“I’m not surprised by @Julius_S_ Malema revelations regarding @Derek_Hanekom. It is part of the plan I mentioned at the Zondo Commission. @Derek_Hanekom is a known enemy agent.”

Zuma’s tweet was sparked by EFF leader Julius Malema’s tweet in which he said: “Today he calls us fascists, but Derek Hanekom plotted with the EFF to bring down President Zuma.”

In 2016 Hanekom called for a motion of no confidence in Zuma, and for the then president to be recalled. A year later, he was sacked as minister of tourism. 

Hanekom subsequently took Zuma to court for defamation and asked the court to find the tweet “defamatory and false”. Hanekom wanted Zuma to be ordered to remove the statement from all platforms within 24 hours, as well as to apologise on Twitter and retract and denounce the tweet as false.

Zuma argued that there were “common cause events” that proved Hanekom was working with opposition parties to oust him.

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 [Hanekom] is in conflict with positions the ANC held to plot my removal. He was part of, if not the initiator of, the grand plan,” argued Zuma.

In September, judge Dhaya Pillay ruled that Zuma’s tweets were: “untrue, defamatory and unlawful.” 

In Pillay’s judgment, Zuma was ordered to remove his tweet and issue an apology to Hanekom within 24 hours of the judgment. Zuma was also interdicted from publishing any statement that implied Hanekom was an enemy agent or an apartheid spy, although he could speak freely at the State Capture inquiry. He was also ordered to pay Hanekom damages, which are yet to be decided.

In November 2019, Zuma applied for leave to appeal this ruling which was dismissed by the KwaZulu-Natal high court as it “would have no reasonable prospects of success”.

Zuma then went to the Supreme Court of Appeal. In May 2020, his application for leave to appeal was dismissed

It’s almost a year since Zuma was ordered to both remove the tweet and apologise. He has not done yet done so.

In a statement released on Twitter, Hanekom said he welcomed the Constitutional Court’s decision. DM



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