Former president Jacob Zuma issued an apology to Derek Hanekom on Sunday following the Constitutional Court ruling in confirmation that he had defamed the former tourism minister.
Zuma tweeted a rather cheeky apology in isiZulu and English which translated reads: “Mr Hanekom wrote the following message after seeking a court order to compel me to state as follows. The courts acceded to his request. I will now state as requested.
“On 25 July 2019, I published a tweet which alleges that Derek Hanekom is a known enemy agent. I unconditionally withdraw this allegation and apologise for making it as it is false.
“I trust I have stated as requested by him and in line with the court order.”
On Friday the Constitutional Court ruled in confirmation that Zuma had defamed Hanekom, who is also the former chairperson of the ANC’s disciplinary committee.
Hanekom had lodged a R500 000 lawsuit after 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.”
Following a Durban High Court ruling in September last year that he should publicly apologise to Hanekom, delete the offensive tweet and pay damages to Hanekom, Zuma approached the highest court in the land to appeal the judgment.
The Constitutional Court concluded on Friday that Zuma had no prospect of success.
Hanekom said on Friday that he was relieved by the judgment. “It has been quite a long chapter with one appeal after the other, which affected us both.
“From the onset I felt very confident that I would win this case with the very strong and excellent legal team, but mainly because the case was so immensely winnable,” he told SABC News.
He added that the judgment had brought to the end of a “kind of a bitter and painful chapter”.
“I am relieved and certainly I am feeling good about it. It is good because justice has been done, and people, especially occupying important positions like president of the Republic of South Africa and president of the ANC, should certainly not be allowed to get away with totally unfounded statement about people’s past and statement which is highly defamatory, dangerous and very offensive,” said Hanekom.
He said the judgment was a lesson that people should be careful about what they say about others.