African National Congress (ANC) stalwart Derek Hanekom has pledged to donate any money awarded to him in the R500 000 defamation lawsuit he brought against former president Jacob Zuma.
No guarantee Hanekom will even win
However, there is no guarantee that Hanekom will actually be awarded anything by Judge Daya Pillay in a case that was left hanging in the balance on Friday.
Judge Pillay reserved judgment in the matter after vociferous arguments were heard from both camps.
The case seems to hinge on how the term “known enemy agent” is eventually seen by the judge.
The differences between the arguments
Hanekom’s representative Carol Steinberg argued that when one senior ANC official calls another a “known enemy agent” it is in reference to apartheid.
She said the fact that Zuma linked the comment back to a conspiracy he revealed at the Zondo Commission left no doubt that the former president was saying Hanekom was an agent of apartheid.
On the flip side of the coin, Zuma’s legal counsel Muzi Sikhakhane argued that it was clear that his client was refering to the politics of the present rather than the past.
Whatever Zuma’s intended meaning, revelations from Steinberg that the former president’s tweet caused members of the public to send messages – such as “you are a disgrace, you betrayed us, thousands of freedom fighters disappeared because of spies like you” – will not help his case.
Any money paid by Zuma will go to Corruption Watch
Even if he wins, Hanekom will not receive a cent from the proceeds after he promised to donate all the money he is awarded by the courts to Corruption Watch, on the assumption the court finds in his favour that is. He says the main objective of the lawsuit is revealing the truth.
“It’s not only me. It’s lies that have been told about Nyanda, Ramatlhodi and myself, with a clear indication that there are more to come. And that’s what Mr Zuma has said, that he is going to reveal things about other people,” Hanekom said.
“To be honest, it is just an attempt to divert public attention from the real issues where Mr Zuma is facing some very serious charges.
“There are some very serious allegations about his role in state capture. I’m not suggesting that he’s guilty of anything, but he is facing these very serious charges.
Impact that could have on Hanekom case
What has not been made clear is how a declaration like this could effect the outcome of the case.
A huge part of any defamation lawsuit is proving damages have been caused and coming to a decision about how much money those damages are worth.
However, with Hanekom already pledging to give away any money won, it could become very difficult for him and his representation to argue any real damage was done if he’s so willing to just pass the money on.