Hanekom: I have been offended and pained by Zuma’s claims

Derek Hanekom responded, after the High Court in Durban reserved judgment in the defamation suit which he brought against Jacob Zuma for referring to him on social media as an enemy agent.

Derek Hanekom and his lawyer Carol Steinberg pictured at the Durban High Court on 23 August 2019. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey/EWN

PRETORIA – African National Congress (ANC) member Derek Hanekom said former President Jacob Zuma’s referral to him and other senior party figures as enemy agents was a premeditated strategy to divert attention away from the real issues of the state capture commission of inquiry.

Hanekom has issued a statement after the High Court in Durban reserved judgment in the defamation suit, which the former minister and current member of the ANC’s national executive committee, brought against Zuma for referring to him on social media as an enemy agent.

During his evidence at the state capture hearing, Zuma alleged that Hanekom, Siphiwe Nyanda, and Ngoako Ramatlodi were spies for the former apartheid regime, a claim that has been denied by all.

After Hanekom confirmed the Economic Freedom Fighters’ claim that he had met with their members to discuss plans to oust Zuma, the former president referred to his testimony at the commission and labelled Hanekom a known enemy agent.

Hanekom said he has been shocked, offended and pained by the events of the past few weeks, but he is pleased that the matter with Zuma has been ventilated in court.

“I filed a motion seeking relief for defamation of character. I note from his court papers that former President Zuma put up no proof that I was an apartheid spy. His counsel conceded in court that the former President 'does not question my struggle credentials’ and that he does not ‘regard me as an apartheid spy’.

“In my view, I can attach no other meaning to his statement than that he is accusing me, as he has comrades Nyanda and Ramatlhodi, of being an agent of the apartheid state. These accusations are irresponsible and dangerous, particularly in our country which witnessed the horrific 'necklacing' of alleged spies in the 1980s,” Hanekom said in the statement.

Zuma’s counsel argued that when he referred to Hanekom as being an agent, he was in fact referring to him as siding with opposition parties to have him ousted as the president.

But the former minister has described this argument as absurd and Zuma’s reference to opposition parties as the enemy as preposterous.

Hanekom accused Zuma of trying to divert attention from the Zondo Commission of Inquiry’s efforts to uncover the truth about allegations of corruption and state capture.