Former president Jacob Zuma has tweeted an apology for claiming on the social media platform in 2019 that former minister Derek Hanekom was a “known enemy agent”.
Zuma lost a bid to challenge an earlier court ruling, that found he had defamed Hanekom, when his application was dismissed by the Constitutional Court.
Failing to delete his offending tweet and issue an apology would have placed him in contempt of court.
“I unconditionally withdraw this allegation,” said a tweet posted on the timeline of the former president on Sunday.
— Jacob G Zuma (@PresJGZuma) August 9, 2020
Zuma’s attorney, Eric Mabuza, confirmed on Sunday that the apology was authentic.
Hanekom sought R500,000 in damages from Zuma for the original tweet which implied he was an apartheid agent.
TimesLIVE reported on Friday that Zuma’s Constitutional Court application was dismissed with costs on the grounds that there was no reasonable prospect of success.
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) had earlier dismissed Zuma’s bid to appeal against a high court ruling that found he had defamed the former minister.
Durban high court judge Dhaya Pillay in September 2019 ordered Zuma to remove the tweet and publish an apology within 24 hours.
Hanekom was the former tourism minister in Zuma’s administration.
Hanekom said it caused him “immense harm and damage”, giving the impression that he was an apartheid spy.
Hanekom on Sunday responded to the apology with a tweet of his own.
“Apology accepted. As far as I am concerned, the matter is now closed, apart from the determination of costs and damages, and we can move on,” he tweeted.
Apology accepted. As far as I am concerned, the matter is now closed, apart from the determination of costs and damages, and we can move on. https://t.co/FKaTciiKJu
— Derek Hanekom (@Derek_Hanekom) August 9, 2020