Former president Jacob Zuma is to seek leave to appeal the ruling of the High Court in Durban in the defamation lawsuit that African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee member Derek Hanekom had brought against him.

On Friday, Hanekom welcomed the court ruling that Zuma’s statement was defamatory and false and that the phrase “known enemy agent” implied that Hanekom was an “apartheid spy”.

The court ordered Zuma to apologise to Hanekom within 24 hours and remove the tweet.

Jacob Zuma’s legal team has already filed an application to try and overturn the court ruling. Zuma’s attorney Robinson Manzi earlier said they respect the decision of the High Court in Durban.

However, they believe that Hanekom could have asked the party to internally deal with the matter instead of going to court.

“It was sickly, crazy of Derek Hanekom to go to court. These matters have the mechanism to (be) resolved within the ANC. He was supposed to go to the ANC if he claims to be a member of the ANC. I’m sure Zuma would have subjected himself to a hearing and outcome of the ANC, not the court. Courts are not a proper forum for these things.”

Zuma’s legal team had argued that the comment was made in the context of political debate and did not intend to mean that Hanekom was an apartheid spy.

The court also ruled that Zuma should pay Hanekom’s legal costs. The court will determine the amount of damages to be paid to Hanekom at a later stage.

In court papers, Hanekom outlined his role in the struggle and said Zuma’s tweet caused his reputation great harm.