Former president Jacob Zuma’s application for leave to appeal a KwaZulu-Natal High Court order about his defamatory remarks about former tourism minister Derek Hanekom, on Twitter in 2019, has been dismissed by the Constitutional Court.
The ConCourt said it “bears no reasonable prospects of success”.
In 2019, Zuma tweeted Hanekom was a well-known agent of the enemy. This came after it was revealed that Hanekom had met with the EFF to discuss a motion of no confidence in Zuma when he was president.
Hanekom sued Zuma for R500 000 for defamation following the tweet on 25 July 2019.
However in September 2019, the KwaZulu-Natal High Court ordered Zuma to apologise for the tweet and interdicted him from publishing any statement in the future that said or implied Hanekom was an enemy agent or apartheid spy.
The court found the tweet was false and defamatory and ordered it be removed within 24 hours of the judgment being handed down.
The former president was also ordered to publish an apology on his Twitter account within 24 hours after the judgment was handed down.
Shortly before posting the tweet, Zuma testified before the Zondo commission that there was a plot among local intelligence services and those of two other countries to remove him from the ANC through character assassination.
Zuma’s legal defence had argued that he was referring to Hanekom solely in the context of his role in his removal as president. He added that Zuma never called Hanekom an apartheid spy at any point.
Zuma then applied for leave to appeal the judgment, which was dismissed by Judge Dhaya Pillay in November 2019, on the basis there was no reasonable prospects of success before another court.