Supreme Court throws out Zuma’s defamation conviction appeal

After a protracted series of court battles between the former President and Derek Hanekom, the Supreme Court has thrown out Zuma’s appeal.

The Supreme Court has on Thursday 21 May dismissed Former President Jacob Zuma’s appeal over the 2019 ruling that tweets he wrote about former tourism minister Derek Hanekom were defamatory. 

Hanekom had sued Zuma for R500 000 in damages after he was referred to as a “known enemy agent” in one of Msholozi’s tweets, but Zuma’s appeals have fallen on deaf ears, with the court seeing no merit in interrogating the case any further. 

HOW DID WE GET HERE? 

The fracas all started when it was revealed that Hanekom had met with top Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) leadership to discuss a motion of no confidence in Zuma while he was still in charge of the country.

Deeming the move as deceitful, Zuma put his newly established Twitter account to work and wrote that Hanekom was a “known enemy of the state”, a charge that suggests that he operated as an Apartheid spy. 

Zuma had testified at the Zondo Commission into State Capture shortly before launching the tweet, and had testified that there was a plot among local intelligence services and those of two other countries to remove him from the African National Congress (ANC). 

Hanekom roundly rejected such claims, and took the President to court, with the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) High Court ruling that the tweet was indeed defamatory and that Zuma should apologise, pay legal costs as well as pay hanekom R500 000 in damages caused to his reputation. 

‘NO REASONABLE PROSPECT OF SUCCESS’ 

The Supreme Court said  on Thursday that there were no compelling circumstances for the court to investigate the issue any further. 

“The claim is dismissed with costs on the grounds that there was no reasonable prospect of success,” the court ruled.

Hanekom has reportedly told attorneys that he welcomes the judgement, which he feels  vindicates his reputation. 

Hanekom’s attorneys said that should Zuma not apologise, he would “technically be in breach of the court order”, and said that they would take action should the apology not be forthcoming.

Source: https://www.thesouthafrican.com/