Pretoria - Being made out to be a sell-out, an impimpi, a counter-revolutionary and a conspirator against President Jacob Zuma was not only extremely damaging to his good name, it also posed a threat to his security.
This is according to former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, who on Tuesday took the stand in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to testify in the R1 million damages claim he has instituted against Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe and the Umkhonto we Sizwe Veterans Association (MKMVA), who at the last minute joined the proceedings as a defendant.
Shortly before the national elections in 2014, Maphatsoe made several statements to the media regarding Kasrils.
Apart from calling Kasrils a counter-revolutionary who has turned his back on the ANC, Maphatsoe also allegedly suggested that the former minister was instrumental in the rape charges against Zuma.
Kasrils started off his evidence on Monday, setting out how since the start of the 1960s he had fought for the liberation movement. He received several national and international awards and he was respected around the globe.
“The accusations levelled against me was extremely damaging,” he said. He felt threatened, especially by “those who believed everything the ANC said”.
Kasrils said after his retirement he lived a comfortable life outside Cape Town, where he saw himself living up to the end. But he and his new wife had to move due to safety concerns.
Kasrils said he also believed that he is “under surveillance”, although he had no proof of this.
He also vehemently denied that he instigated the woman known as Khwezi to lay rape charges against Zuma.
Kasrils told the court that he was guarded when he received a call from Khwezi in 2005.
“It was Friday 4th of November. Her exact words were: ‘Uncle Ronnie, Jacob Zuma has raped me.’ I got the shock of my life,” Kasrils told the court.
Kasrils said he asked Khwezi if she had gone to the police and she said she was on her way was accompanied by other women.
“I told her I won’t interfere because it will politicise everything and she told me she understood,” said Kasrils.
He said during the conversation with Khwezi he asked her what she wanted from him, or expected from him, to which Khwezi responded by saying she was just making him aware of what had transpired.
Kasrils said the following week he was visited by two members of the investigation team because they had been told that Khwezi had called him. He said he made a brief statement concerning the call he had received, but was never called to testify during the trial.
The former cabinet minister said if he was the mastermind behind the rape conspiracy, the ANC would have charged him.
Kasrils told the court that he was shocked when Zuma, during his trial, told the judge that he and former National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka were behind the conspiracy against him.
“When he was asked who had conspired against him, he said Bulelani Ngcuka and Ronnie Kasrils. I nearly fell on my back,” Kasrils said.
Kasrils wants compensation from Maphatsoe for defamation of character. He said Maphatsoe refused to apologise and retract his statements after he wrote him a letter.
Kasrils said he would have been satisfied if Maphatsoe had retracted his statements and apologised. But instead of apologising, Kasrils claimed Maphatsoe intensified his accusations and said he had sold the intelligence to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
The former cabinet minister also pointed out in court that Maphatsoe had lost his arm after he had deserted an uMkhonto we Sizwe camp in Uganda.
Advocate Dali Mpofu, for Kasrils, asked how Maphatsoe would be in a position to speak for the uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association if he had abandoned the MK.
Maphatsoe’s council was quick to object to Mpofu’s question, but Judge Pieter Meyer allowed the line of questioning and said he wanted to see where Mpofu was going.
The court adjourned for lunch. - Additional reporting by ANA