Who was Khwezi? What we learnt during the Zuma rape trial
The woman who accused President Jacob Zuma of rape‚ Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo‚ was from a family of political exiles whose life was spread across Zimbabwe‚ Swaziland‚ Tanzania‚ Britain‚ the Netherlands and South Africa.
Her life was a fractured existence punctuated by trauma‚ according to a memoir she was writing and testimony in the High Court in Johannesburg‚ which is summarised in the judgment.
Her identity was protected during the trial‚ so she was known only as Khwezi until her death at the weekend. (Read: Zuma's rape accuser Khwezi dies.)
She was 31 years old‚ weighed 85kg and was 1.65-metres tall in November 2005‚ when she brought a case against Zuma‚ then 63.
She was unmarried and had no biological children‚ after having an abortion in 1995.
Khwezi had known since April 1999 that she was HIV-positive.
The court heard that she was “bi-sexual with a lesbian orientation”. She recalled having had sexual relations with approximately five men.
She alleged she had been raped on a number of occasions by other men‚ starting when she was five years old.
Khwezi met Zuma as a child in Swaziland‚ where she was in exile with her parents. Zuma and her late father were good friends. They were together in the ANC as youth members and they were both sentenced to 10 years imprisonment at Robben Island. Her father‚ JK‚ died in a motor collision in May 1985 in Zimbabwe.
According to her court testimony‚ she came back to South Africa in December 1990. She phoned Zuma "several times" around 1998. When she was employed in Pretoria in 2001‚ she saw him for the first time in person. In 2002‚ they lost contact when she left for the United Kingdom. On her return the next year‚ she again found work in Pretoria and resumed contact with the then deputy president.
She had appealed to Zuma to help her find funding to study. She was interested in studying homeopathic medicine in Australia and doing a course in the UK.
However‚ her academic record was poor.
She claimed to have passed matric in 1992 at Phambili High School in Durban.
From 1993 to 1997‚ she mainly did voluntary work with different non-governmental organisations with a keen interest in HIV-awareness.
In 1995‚ she was interested in joining the ministry‚ and enrolled as a student at the RR Wright theological seminary in Vereeniging. She was a member of the African Methodist church. To join the ministry‚ she had to have a matric certificate. It then transpired that she did not pass matric.
In 1998‚ she started tertiary education at the University of Natal in 1998. She did not complete her studies.
Her mother described her as a person who had been raped on a number of occasions from a young age and whose father died tragically in a motor accident. That was the cause of her problems. It was also caused by Khwezi “seeing her comrades die‚ her uncles die in exile‚ attacks being carried out on the people in exile and then you finally come home with a number of problems”.
Some of the problems‚ according to the judgment summarising her mother’s testimony‚ were that Khwezi did not have a matric certificate and that she could not go to university. She tried to write exams and failed‚ and finally she got expelled from university. “Then she finds out that she is HIV-positive‚ she is given tablets that make her a zombie‚ and all these problems add up to a confused and troubled person.”
The High Court looked into some of the allegations of rape against the other men‚ some of which were contained in her memoir‚ and found them to be false.
Referring to six prior cases‚ it saw a pattern that she was inclined to falsely accuse men of having raped or attempted to rape her.
The court found the state had failed to prove the case against Zuma‚ accepting his version that they had consensual sex.
After Zuma was acquitted on May 5 2006 in the High Court in Johannesburg‚ Khwezi and her mother fled to the Netherlands‚ where they were given asylum after the high-profile trial. They struggled with language and cultural differences in the Netherlands and later left for Tanzania before returning to South Africa.
Read the full judgment here: http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZAGPHC/2006/45.pdf
- TMG Digital