An apology and demand for payment in damages: Jacob Zuma and Derek Hanekom tweet saga continues

Derek Hanekom has accepted former president Jacob Zuma's apology but still wants him to fork out R500,000 in damages.
Derek Hanekom has accepted former president Jacob Zuma's apology but still wants him to fork out R500,000 in damages.
Image: Russell Roberts

While ANC veteran Derek Hanekom has accepted former president Jacob Zuma’s apology for a defamatory tweet, he still wants Zuma to pay him R500,000 for the damage caused to his reputation.

On Sunday, Zuma issued an apology to Hanekom and deleted a tweet calling him a “known enemy agent” in 2019.

Here is what you need to know:

'Not so sincere' apology

The apology comes after the Constitutional Court dismissed, with costs, Zuma’s bid to overturn an earlier ruling by the Durban high court ordering him to delete the remark and apologise on his Twitter account.

TimesLIVE reported that had Zuma failed to delete his offending tweet and issue an apology, he would have been placed in contempt of court.

In Zulu, Zuma said, “Mr Hanekom wrote the following message asking the courts to force me to say it as it is written. The high court agreed that I should say it. I am now saying it as it is: 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.”

Apology accepted 

Hanekom said he was ready to put the matter behind him, despite the apology coming across as begrudging.

Speaking on CapeTalk, Hanekom said had Zuma called him an idiot or a creep, he would have just ignored it and not expected an apology.

“I consider the matter closed. We should move on now, albeit the apology may have come across as begrudging and even as a reluctant apology, my decision was to accept it,” he said.

“It is a very serious remark and allegation to have made, especially as he knows there is no truth to it and he can't substantiate it and I can give you a whole history of my contact with him which would make it absurd.

“If he had called me an idiot or a creep or anything else, I would have just ignored it, but because of the seriousness, I decided to go the defamation route,” Hanekom added.

R500k in damages

Hanekom's lawyer Pooja Dela on Monday told eNCA that the matter was far from over.

She said Hanekom only accepted the apology because the highest court in the country ruled that Zuma should withdraw his statements because they were “false and defamatory”.

She said the R500,000 for damages was the “final leg in terms of the remedy for the defamation”. 

“There are factors that have to be taken into account. For instance, the severity and the harm that was caused by the tweet and the reach of the tweet,” said Dela.

“Half a million people had immediate access to that tweet, so the reach of the statement made in it is vitally important. All of these factors have to be considered in the amount that we have asked.”

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