Former President Jacob Zuma’s allegations that one of his former colleagues was an apartheid spy is to be tested in court. Derek Hanekom, whom Zuma appointed to various Cabinet positions in his administration, is suing the former President for R500 000, says a Business Day report.

The defamation case is set for 21 August. Hanekom, most recently the Tourism Minister, argued that the accusations made on Zuma’s official Twitter account had caused ‘immense harm and damage’ to his reputation and this harm would continue as long as ‘this statement remained published without censure’.

Hanekom said Zuma’s tweet, made just days after the former President appeared at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in July and accused other ANC leaders of being spies, clearly insinuated that he was part of a ‘plan’ hatched by the apartheid government and foreign intelligence agencies to remove Zuma as President.

The report notes that when he appeared at the Zondo commission, Zuma suggested that the ANC’s leadership had been infiltrated by spies planted by foreign intelligence agencies. Hanekom, an ally of President Cyril Ramaphosa, wants the KZN High Court (Durban) to rule that Zuma’s tweet was ‘defamatory and untrue’.

He also wants the court to order Zuma to delete the tweet and then to ‘unconditionally withdraw his spy claim, acknowledge that it was entirely false’ and apologise.

In court papers, Hanekom says that Zuma’s statement, which ‘casts aspersions on my character and integrity’, is ‘without any basis in fact’ and is entirely false.

‘Mr Zuma has no evidence to support his allegations. And yet he refused to remove the statement from his Twitter account.’

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