Derek Hanekom. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Derek Hanekom. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Derek Hanekom’s advocate says the former minister is “proud” of the role he played in removing former president Jacob Zuma and does not deny it.

“He says: ‘I did. I did it and I’m proud of it’,” advocate Carol Steinberg stated on Friday morning. However, she insists this cannot justify any claim that Hanekom was a spy.

Steinberg was responding to Zuma’s argument that he referred to Hanekom as a “known enemy agent” because of the way he “connived and colluded” to remove him from office.

Hanekom was seeking an urgent order from the Durban high court to force Zuma to delete and apologise for a July tweet that he posted in response to EFF leader Julius Malema’s allegations that Hanekom had “plotted” with the EFF “to bring down Zuma”.

Zuma maintains that he has not stated that Hanekom was an apartheid spy, as argued by Hanekom, but has not ruled out that he may still do so. He’s also claimed that Hanekom’s exile in Zimbabwe was “staged”, and that his work as a spy for the ANC meant that he worked with the ANC’s enemies.

On Friday morning, Steinberg argued that these claims were a complete subversion of Hanekom’s history as an anti-apartheid activist.

She said that Hanekom and his wife had been inundated with social media threats since Zuma made his “known enemy agent” claims in a tweet, and had been accused of being involved in the deaths of activists like Solomon Mahlangu.

“It is dangerous in this country to call people a spy,” Steinberg said, adding that Hanekom had suffered “immense reputational harm”.

“Frankly it’s something that the whole country is talking about”.

Malema had claimed that Hanekom had provided the EFF with “the list of the ANC MPs who were going to vote with us in the vote of no confidence against Jacob Zuma”.

Zuma responded by tweeting: “I’m not surprised by @Julius_S_Malema revelations regarding @Derek_Hanekom. It is part of the plan I mentioned at the Zondo Commission. @Derek_Hanekom is a known enemy agent”.

Hanekom argues that it is an “act of hubris to describe Mr Zuma’s political enemies as enemy agents”, Steinberg said.

“Mr Zuma disingenuously conflates his own enemies with the enemies of the ANC”.

Steinberg then referred to Zuma’s testimony before the Zondo inquiry into state capture, where he testified the week before he tweeted about Hanekom.

Zuma claimed in his testimony that his legal and political difficulties — and attempts to assassinate both him and his character — were the consequence of a plot hatched three decades ago by foreign and apartheid intelligence agencies, who had planted agents within the ANC.

The former president named two of his former ministers, Ngoako Ramatlhodi and Siphiwe Nyanda, as alleged apartheid spies. Both men deny these claims.

Steinberg argued that Zuma’s tweet must be read in the context of his Zondo inquiry testimony.

As part of his defamation case, Hanekom wants Zuma to be ordered to pay R500,000 in damages, which he intends to donate to Corruption Watch. He also wants Zuma to be interdicted from making such spy claims in the future — an application that Zuma maintains is designed to curtail his future testimony before Zondo.

The hearing continues.