Zuma trial heads into week two

Zuma pleaded not guilty last Monday as the trial set off on what will likely be an emotional rollercoaster for the complainant ‘ a 31-year-old Aids activist ‘ who alleges that Zuma raped her without a condom at his Forest Town home on November 2 last year. With huge numbers of Zuma supporters and protesters picketing outside the Johannesburg High Court for most of the week, the court heard, among other things, that Zuma’s accuser had not asked him to stop his sexual advances towards her. She told the court that she was “scared” when Zuma began having sexual intercourse with her and was unable to call for help. While she had told him to stop several times while he was massaging her before the alleged rape actually took place, the complainant said she had been unable to prevent him form having intercourse with her. “I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t do anything,” she said when being cross-examined by Zuma’s lawyer Kemp J. Kemp. The ANC deputy president admitted to having sex with the woman but denied that he raped her, stating instead that she had consented to being intimate with him. “We had sex for some time. It was consensual,” Zuma told a packed Johannesburg courtroom last Monday. The woman, who is HIV-positive, also said that she did not resist when Zuma held down her hands and forced her legs open and repeatedly told the court that she was “shocked and stiff”. After describing in great detail the events that had occurred on the night of the alleged rape, the complainant said she had been offered compensation in return for her dropping the charges against the ex-deputy president. She said she had had a telephone conversation with Zweli Mkhize, a close family friend and KwaZulu-Natal finance chief, who said he had spoken to her mother about the possibility of compensation if she dropped the charges against Zuma. However, she declined the offer and later received a telephone call from Zuma himself, in which he said he was aware of the action she intended taking (filing rape charges against him) and wanted to talk to her. The woman said she refused to meet him and that on November 15, she talked to a lawyer named Yusuf, who said he had been sent by Mkhize and again asking her to withdraw the charge. Apart from the disclosure of the alleged attempts to silence the woman before the rape allegations went public, other revelations were also made, including the fact that Zuma had not used a condom when having intercourse with the woman, who tested positive for HIV in 1999. Access to the courtroom where the trial is being conducted has been heavily restricted, with Judge Willem van der Merwe also maintaining a black-out of the woman’s name from the media. Proceedings continue at the Johannesburg High Court tomorrow.

March 2006
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