Prinsloo signs up to help Zuma in 'media war'

By Karyn Maughan and Gill Gifford

Former Conservative Party MP Jurg Prinsloo grabbed headlines when he argued for an Afrikaner volkstaat and defended the men who assassinated then-SACP leader Chris Hani.

Now he's fighting Jacob Zuma's massive defamation battle against the media, reportedly free of charge.

And The Star has confirmed that independent film producer Liesl Gottert - who spent two years producing a documentary about Zuma entitled The Zuma Media Trial - has been appointed as the "media consultant", tasked with handling the publicity around Zuma's defamation claims.

Gottert, who attended every day of Zuma's rape trial, was widely quoted after she suggested that the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble, who she interviewed for her documentary, might have been linked to his lambasting of "the political elitists" who he believed had conspired to get rid of Zuma.

After agreeing to be interviewed by The Star about her role in Zuma's defamation case, Gottert later cancelled the interview on apparent instruction of Prinsloo and Zuma's attorney, Wycliffe Mothuloe.

Mothuloe then sent a fax to The Star stating: "On the advice of myself and Advocate Prinsloo, Mr Zuma entered into a written agreement on 10 May 2006 with an external media consultant, Ms L Gottert... to advise him on all relevant media matters.

"A clause in the agreement prohibits Ms Gottert to deal with any enquiries regarding the claims, other than through (the [email protected]) email," he wrote.

Meanwhile, the SACP and the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust have been vehement in their support of Zuma's legal action against the media.

SACP spokesperson Maleka Malesela said they were not concerned that Zuma was being represented by the man who defended Hani's killers.

Zobaphi Sithole and Lucky Zibi of the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust said they had been angered by the "media sensationalising the defamation claims".

Referring to published claims that "not all of Zuma's close allies", including former Sunday Times journalist and open Zuma supporter Ranjeni Munusamy, had known about and supported the pending claims, Sithole said: "Never before have we been so united in our support for Mr Zuma."

Apparently unconcerned about the right-wing links of those included under the auspices of "The Office of Jacob Zuma", the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust said: "These people are experts in their respective fields and they should be allowed to work as any other professional is entitled to do."

Citing "ethical rules", Prinsloo has declined to comment about Zuma's pending legal action or his role in it. But he is no stranger to the media spotlight - or controversy.

During an unsuccessful Cape High Court bid to overturn the Truth and Reconciliation Commission amnesty committee's decision not to grant amnesty to Hani's murderers, Clive Derby-Lewis and Janusz Walus, Prinsloo argued that the men had viewed the assassination as "an inevitable necessity" to prevent the ANC/SACP alliance from taking over the country. Walus shot and killed Hani in the driveway of Hani's Boksburg home with a pistol supplied by Derby-Lewis. In October 1992 Prinsloo accused then president FW de Klerk in parliament of pushing through a law that would enable him to unconditionally release prisoners identified by the ANC.

Less than a year later, Prinsloo asked De Klerk to hold a referendum asking white South Africans whether they were in favour of a sovereign state for Afrikaners and accused De Klerk of denying Afrikaners the right to have a say over self-determination.

And, two years ago, Prinsloo reportedly led a Conservative Party faction opposed to the 2004 elections.

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