South Africa’s top 11 sex scandals: From Jacob Zuma to the 'free love club'

22 May 2014 - 12:24
By Pericles Anetos
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Here is a look at South Africa's top 11 sex scandals from small towns in the Free State all the way to the political scandals that gripped the country.

12 Girl students vie for men (1965)
A sex club at Stellenbosch University got even Hendrik Verwoerd’s wife Betsie Schoombie hot under the collar when it was revealed that 12 female students formed a ‘free love club’ called the 12 Apostles.

The objective of their club was to have as many love affairs with male students as possible.

The girls had a log book each, in which they would keep a record of their sexual exploits. According to the Sunday Times, the male students were divided into categories and each given a certain number of points.

Doing the deed with a Theology student would get you five points, while an affair with a medical student would get you four points. An engineering student would get two points, while an arts student earned only one point, and the rest were shunned.

The girls were eventually asked to leave the university after the club came to the attention of the school's authorities.

Jacob Zuma rape allegations (2005)
President Jacob Zuma was in the hot seat and the dock in 2005 when an allegation of rape was laid against him.

Zuma – who was then South Africa’s deputy president – was accused of raping a woman who was a guest at his house. The scandal went from bad to worse when it emerged that Zuma was aware that his accuser was HIV-positive.

During the trial, Zuma admitted to having unprotected sex with the accuser, but claimed he took a shower afterwards to cut the risk of contracting HIV.

The comments sent the media into a frenzy, inspiring cartoonist Zapiro’s iconic yet infamous shower head depiction, that has accompanied the president in the social commentator’s cartoons ever since.

Zuma was found not guilty of rape by the court in May 2006. A year later his accuser was granted asylum in the Netherlands.

Sex test threatened for the Lolitas of the Vaal (1981)
The small town of Parys in the then Orange Free State was rocked by its own sex scandal when eight men were convicted under the Immorality Act for having sex with minors.

Parents in the town feared their daughters would have to undergo virginity tests.

The scandal was uncovered when a 14-year-old decided to type her 21-year-old boyfriend a letter during her typing class. In it she confronted him on his infidelity while she was away on a trip to Bloemfontein.

When the teacher asked to see what she was writing, the scandal was blown wide open.

One of the schoolgirls compiled a list of all the sexually active girls at the school, and the principal started to “get rid of all the rotten apples in the school”.

One of the girls told the Sunday Times that things like this happened because there was nothing better to do in the town.

Free State Lolitas (1983)
Small-town Lolitas were at it again, this time in Odendaalsrus in the Free State.

A ‘Lolita’ is a young girl engaging in sexual activities with an older man, made famous by the 1955 novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

The mining town was shocked when seven men were convicted of having sex with girls under 16. Some were even as young as 11 in dagga-fuelled sex romps near the town library.

One of the convicted men said the court would have been too small if they charged everyone involved.

The scene of the illicit drug-taking and lovemaking was straight out of a Madonna video, with teens heading to their local roller-skating rink to live on the wild side.

The Sunday Times article alleged that the men would entice young girls with liquor and cigarettes, while others didn’t need enticing and would proposition older men.

The town’s Dominee blamed video movies for the scandal.

“To my mind, video movies have played a larger role in corrupting the youth.”

The men were required to pay a R180 fine each or go to jail for 60 days.

Mamphela Ramphele and Steve Biko (1969)
Activist and politician Mamphela Ramphele wrote about her affair with Black Consciousness Movement leader Steve Biko in her autobiographies.

Mamphela Ramphele – A Life and Mamphela Ramphele: A Passion for Freedom detail how the two met and fell in love.

Ramphele wrote that she found it difficult to resist Biko’s advances, resulting in a love triangle between Biko, his wife Ntsiki Mashalaba, and Ramphele.

Ramphele had a child with Biko while he was still married at the time.

Sex across the colour line made history in Excelsior (1970)
In the small town of Excelsior in the Free State five men described as ‘leading citizens’ were arrested under the Immorality Act for having sex across the colour line.

One of the accused was a local Nationalist Party secretary and the other three were well-to-do farmers.

The fifth man, Johannes Calitz, a town councillor, shot himself after being released on bail.

The case against the men and women was withdrawn when the women refused to give evidence for the state.

According to the Sunday Times, the court could have forced the women to give evidence against the men, but it would have had to give them indemnity against prosecution.

The chairman of the United Party, Michael Mitchell, told the Sunday Times that the case placed the state in a dilemma.

“There would have been a public outcry against the use of African women to convict white men in this way,” he told the paper.

Members of the National Party within parliament put pressure on the minster of justice at the time, Petrus Pelser, to take a soft line on the case.

The case led to many within parliament and outside calling for a repeal of the Immorality Act. The ban on interracial sex was lifted in 1985.

The minister’s love affair (2013)
Dina Pule, the former communications minister, was embroiled in a scandal when she tried to cover up her affair with businessman Phosane Mngqibisa.

Mngqibisa was paid R6 million in management fees for the ICT Indaba after Pule’s department apparently forced the conference organiser to hire him.

The scandal included international trips, red Christian Louboutin shoes and missing millions.

Wine schoolgirls and song (1982)
A winter holiday course turned into a week of steamy revelry at the University of Cape Town.

The Engineering Winter School was a course for Matric pupils to attend if they were interested in becoming engineers.

But the schoolgirls and boys were exposed to the other side of college life, which included drinking into the early hours and according to the Sunday Times, ‘nights of seduction and song’.

Two of the student organisers who were responsible for taking care of the schoolchildren were fined R360 and R70 – the latter, according to the articles, was because he “slept with a Matric girl but didn’t make love to her”.

The Boesak affairs (1990)
In 1984, Dominee Dr Allan Boesak was accused of having an affair with a white woman who was an employee of the South African Council of Churches. The

‘Romeo Dominee’ later admitted to calling it a “unique and special relationship”.

Boesak’s marriage came to an end when he confessed to his wife that he was seeing journalist and television personality Elna Botha.

He divorced his wife in 1991 and married Botha.

Jani Allan and Eugène Terre'Blanche (1992)
The alleged affair between the liberal columnist Jani Allan and Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader Eugène Terre'Blanche was a scandal that gripped the country and the British media.

The alleged affair lead to a libel case in Britain after Channel 4 TV aired a programme that claimed that she had an affair with Terre'Blanche.

Linda Shaw, Allan’s former roommate, testified that while peering through the lock of her friend's bedroom door, she identified the two, even though she couldn’t see their faces.

Another witness the former AWB financial secretary Kays Smit recalled finding a drunken Terre'Blanche on Allan's couch, wearing only green underpants with holes.

Allan also shared tapes with the Sunday Times of Terre'Blanche declaring his love for the journalist.

The court ruled in favour of Channel 4 TV, but Allan still maintains the affair never happened.

Zwelinzima Vavi in rape scandal (2013)
Rape allegations were raised against Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi in 2013.

A woman employed by him at Cosatu’s headquarters in Johannesburg, and who was in a relationship with him claimed that Vavi raped her, in her office. She demanded a R2 million bribe for her silence.

Vavi admitted to having consensual sex with the woman but denied  raping her.

The accuser sent a letter to Vavi’s wife which stated: “This document serves as a written agreement that once my demands are met ... I will solemnly swear not to divulge any information regarding this matter.”

Vavi was suspended as general secretary of Cosatu.

He was only reinstated after the Johannesburg High Court set aside his suspension on April 4, 2014.