Pretoria - Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils is ready to fight in court on Wednesday as he feels that he was “maliciously” defamed by Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe.

Maphatsoe apparently called him an “enemy of the people and of our revolution” and accused him of instigating the rape charges against President Jacob Zuma. Kasrils said he has a reputation to maintain. “I am confident about my case. It is pretty serious what he said about me.”

Kasrils said if he won his case he did not want to keep the money, but would donate it to a worthy cause.

He is claiming R1 million in damages in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, from Maphatsoe, who is also the national chairman of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Veterans' Association.

Kasrils said he had “absolutely no relationship” with Maphatsoe, although he may have run into him once or twice in the past during meetings.

“I don’t believe I have ever exchanged a word with him.

“Although he was then part of the ANC. I knew there was something about this man which made me not want to know or meet him.”

The two also ignored each other on Monday, sitting on opposite sides of the court.

Following lengthy discussions between the parties, the association was joined as a party to the proceedings.

The court was told that Maphatsoe, in his capacity as chairman of association, made certain statements regarding Kasrils on behalf of the association and that it is clear it had to join the proceedings.

The veterans, in an affidavit handed to court , conceded the comments made relating to the rape allegations were “improper” and “should not have been made”.

This relates to Maphatsoe allegedly suggesting that Kasrils influenced Khwezi - the young woman who claimed she was raped - to lay the charges against Zuma.

Tshidiso Paka, the association's secretary, said the organisation will “without reservations” withdraw the entire statement regarding Khwezi and publicly apologise to “comrade Ronnie” and even to the women of South Africa.

“If desired by the plaintiff that this should be done publicly, this will be considered seriously by the association. But Maphatsoe has denied that he made this statement, even though the Kasrils camp claims it has proof.”

His lawyer, Mashudu Tshivhase, when asked about the Khwezi averments after the proceedings on Monday, simply said “this has to be proved in court”.

Jenny Freedman, Kasrils’s lawyer, said Maphatsoe had already in January last year - when summons were issued against him - been asked to apologise.

She said that would have brought an end to the proceedings. “But the defendant (Maphatsoe) did not even dignify the demand for an apology with an answer.”

Freedman said he instead persisted that he had never made such a statement.

Paka said the association has the uttermost respect for Kasrils and it accepts his bona fides when he criticises the ANC and the liberation movement. “It believes that he is not a person motivated by ill intent and his criticism is intended at pointing out areas where the liberation movement has gone astray.”

Kasrils said this was an important case for him. “In our country, which is a democracy, we need to put a stop to people who, at a drop of a hat, point fingers at those who criticise the ruling party.”

Kasrils said what made this so sad, is that “the smear campaign” came from the liberation party which he had served for most of his adult life.

He said he and Zuma knew Khwezi when she was 7 and her parents gave them shelter while underground in Swaziland. He met her again once years later.

“She phoned me on November 4, 2005. I will never forget it in my life. She said that Jacob Zuma has raped me. She was on her way to the police station to lay a charge. I had nothing to do with it.”

Zuma was later acquitted of the rape charge.

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Pretoria News