‘Jacob Zuma knows the truth’ – Frank Chikane on Kate’s death

08 May 2020 - 08:30 By Iavan Pijoos
Jacob and Duduzane Zuma created waves when they released their 'Zooming with Zumas' clip. File image.
Jacob and Duduzane Zuma created waves when they released their 'Zooming with Zumas' clip. File image.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Reverend Frank Chikane says Duduzane Zuma needs to learn the truth about the circumstances around the death of his mother, Kate Mantsho Zuma.

In the show Zooming with Zumas shared on YouTube, former president Jacob Zuma and his son Duduzane provided South Africans with some “explosive” revelations after teasing social media with a trailer earlier this week.

The father and son discussed Zuma's alleged poisoning, the death of Duduzane’s mother Kate as well as that of one of Zuma's sons and the alleged poisoning of deputy president David Mabuza.

Duduzane kicked off the show talking about the suicide of his mother Kate on December 8 2000, at the age of 44.

The Sunday Times reported at the time that she had taken an overdose of anti-malaria drugs. She was a mother of five children and the third wife of Jacob Zuma, who had been out of town on an overnight business trip at the time. Their marriage had been strained.

Mantsho Zuma, who had been married to the then deputy president for 18 years, was given a state funeral that was addressed by former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela.

“She didn’t pass away, she didn’t die, she committed suicide,” Duduzane says in the clip. 

“It was late morning. I was minding my own business ... One of the staff members came running frantically to get my attention ... I got to your room, and obviously, you were not there ... They brought me to the room and said, 'Look brace yourself, something is going on here.'

“When I got into the room, and when I looked to the right, mom was laying on the bed, she was non-responsive, frothing at the mouth. I don't think people were aware of what was going on.”

Duduzane says he found a note his mother had left in the walk-in-closet.

He asserted that some of the content of the suicide note was “leaked” to the media.

“Reverend Frank Chikane walked in, I'm not sure if you remember. He must have been minister in the presidency. He walked in and obviously he is known to the family ... I remember he grabbed my shoulder and [was] like 'Yo, chill, you'll be fine, we're dealing with the situation.'

“I'm confused, as any youngster would be, and I remember he took the note, we almost had a little arm-wrestle match for the note. The last time I saw that note was when he took it from my hands.

“This is something that, till today, feels like yesterday. It's traumatic and over time, we all deal with things differently,” Duduzane said.

“I guess I wanted to convey that experience from my side. Which I've never conveyed to you ... We're cool, we're in a good place. I've dealt with the tragedy.”

His father responds by saying: “Perhaps it's important to do so. I remember you, in particular, because you just switched off and were not talking. I knew that this was in you ... I realised a home without a mother, the men can't live there. I just wanted to mention that.”

At the time, Chikane, who was the director-general in the presidency, said Kate had called him on the morning of her death and told him that she had taken sleeping pills and anti-malaria pills, the Sunday Times reported.

Chikane had rushed to the deputy president's official residence in Pretoria, Oliver Tambo House. Mantsho was rushed to hospital. Chikane said he remained at the house and, a short while later, he received a call from the hospital to inform him that she had been declared dead on arrival.

He had to break the news to Zuma that his wife had died.

On Friday, Chikane said in a tweet there were “falsehoods about the suicide note” contained in the Zooming with Zumas show.

“Jacob Zuma should take responsibility to correct his son because he knows the truth. I hope he has done so, or will still do it,” Chikane said.