How Zweli ‘misled’ Khwezi
Book reveals how President Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser faced a barrage of psychological tricks during his trial
Anew book reveals how ANC presidential hopeful Zweli Mkhize tried to manipulate President Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser into dropping the charges against him. The book, called Khwezi and written by journalist and radio personality Redi Tlhabi, contains allegations about how state institutions and resources were used against Fezekile “Khwezi” Kuzwayo, so she would flounder when testifying against Zuma, a man she called “Malume”, and who was her father’s best friend.
The book includes allegations that:
. Kuzwayo was persuaded, against prosecutor Charin de Beer’s advice, to enter the police’s witness protection programme instead of the one run by the National Prosecuting Authority, after being fed the lie that the latter’s budget was being cut and that it would be discontinued;
. Kuzwayo’s police-assigned bodyguard recorded all her interviews and sessions with her psychologist and De Beer, under the pretext that she was doing this for Kuzwayo’s benefit. The tapes disappeared, and she believes their confidentiality had been compromised;
. The police guarding her “constantly fed her false information about her advocate and her abilities, asking her what they had discussed that day and why she was trusting a white woman to defend her”;
. Former police crime intelligence commissioner Mulangi Mphego flirted with Kuzwayo in the safe house in which she was staying and asked her to sit on his lap. This would later be used to paint her as a “loose woman” who initiated sex with Zuma; and
. The night before she testified in court, she was startled awake in the middle of the night. She got up to investigate and found the lights in the house switched on, all the doors wide open and her police protectors nowhere to be found.
Kuzwayo died in October last year. She was the daughter of Judson Kuzwayo, an Umkhonto weSizwe commander in exile. Judson was a good friend of Zuma’s – they were imprisoned together on Robben Island and were members of the same military unit.
The book details how Fezekile was raped three times in exile by men she regarded as father figures – once at the age of five, and twice after her father died in a car accident in Zimbabwe, when she was 12 and 13 years old.
Zuma’s lawyer Kemp J Kemp extensively used her childhood rape trauma against her during the trial.
The book details the uncles she loved and trusted – Mkhize, Ivan Pillay and Ronnie Kasrils, who had fought alongside her father. Although her trust was not misplaced in the last two, Mkhize let her down. He was KwaZulu-Natal finance MEC at the time of the trial, in 2006.
Shortly after she laid the rape charge against Zuma, Mkhize sent Kuzwayo a lawyer. She met him in the company of her mother Beauty and childhood exile friend Kimmy.
“After taking the story, he then proceeded to talk about the case and the pros and cons of going on with the case,” Kuzwayo is quoted saying.
“Initially, he seemed to be objective and just talking and helpful, and then, towards the end of the conversation, he clearly said that he was advising that I should drop the charges, and when we finished talking, it was clear that I said to him that I was not dropping the charges. He then just said that Malume Zweli would be surprised at the outcome of the meeting.
“Malume Zweli sounded so genuine, so it was easy to trust him. He also, at some point, came to see Ma, to see if she was coping; helped her with travel arrangements, money for food...”
Mkhize was not immediately available for comment yesterday.
The book is based on extensive interviews with Kuzwayo as well as the diary she wrote while under police protection, copies of which found their way to Zuma’s defence team.
Tlhabi writes of Kuzwayo’s constant fear of the throngs of Zuma supporters outside the Johannesburg High Court, who vilified her and threatened her. Kuzwayo had to run the gauntlet of the mob baying for her blood as she entered and left court. This was despite the fact that her advocate obtained permission for her to be allowed in through the basement, which had been agreed to and rehearsed. Instead, she was paraded in front of the pro-Zuma crowd, and took the stand a “demoralised and frightened” woman.
During the trial, the police officers guarding Kuzwayo would do their best to unsettle her by leaving newspapers lying around. Reports about the trial were splashed over the front pages. The officers would talk to her and each other about the proceedings.
It was this psychological warfare Kuzwayo faced that got to her the most, Tlhabi writes.
The night before she testified, when she was woken up by a loud noise and found the doors of her safe house open, Kuzwayo phoned De Beer in a panic. De Beer made a few calls and the police returned without any explanation.
According to the book, De Beer herself was not spared during the three days she cross-examined Zuma, who was accompanied, according to a source, by a sangoma from KwaZulu-Natal.
One evening during the trial, De Beer found highly venomous boomslang snakes on the doorstep of her home. Her domestic worker and police protectors said this was a sign of witchcraft.
Her co-counsel, Herman Broodryk, said there was something sinister in the air when she crossexamined Zuma and, during those three days, De Beer was suddenly and inexplicably weak and ill.
After the trial, De Beer’s marriage fell apart, her health suffered and her finances took a blow.
Towards the end of the book, Tlhabi reveals how a political journalist confided in her that Zuma led her to his bedroom in his home in Forest Town, Johannesburg, under the pretext of showing her something. There, he allegedly pressed himself against her and kissed her passionately.
After this allegation was printed in the Sowetan newspaper this week, Zuma’s spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said: “The presidency is unable to comment on allegations by a complainant who has not been identified.”
Tlhabi writes about how, as a journalist, she used to be “very comfortable” with Zuma while interviewing him on his peacemaking efforts in Burundi when he was deputy president.
“Until he suggested, one Saturday afternoon, that next time, I must come not just for tea, but for dinner and breakfast,” she wrote.
“I have never been alone with him since.”
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REMEMBER KHWEZI The protest in support of President Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser, Fezekile ‘Khwezi’ Kuzwayo (inset), as he releases the results of the local government elections in August last year. She died two months later