In­sight into Kh­wezi’s back­ground

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS -

“FEZEKILE’S hu­man­ity was her strength but in a world that is masculine, hos­tile and judge­men­tal, it en­dan­gered her.” This is ac­cord­ing to Redi Tl­habi in dis­cus­sions about her new book, Kh­wezi: The Re­mark­able Story of Fezekile Nt­sukela Kuzwayo, of­fi­cially re­leased this week.

The book is an ac­count of Pres­i­dent Jacob Zuma’s rape ac­cuser, Fezekile Nt­sukela Kuzwayo, known as Kh­wezi. In Septem­ber 2006, Zuma stood trial for the al­leged rape of Kh­wezi but he was found not guilty and ac­quit­ted. Kh­wezi died last Oc­to­ber, after a long strug­gle with HIV/Aids.

Tl­habi said the book is about re­flec­tions on power re­la­tions, adding that Kh­wezi was trau­ma­tised as a child. “You will see that I’ve de­lib­er­ately an­a­lysed the child­hood cases. I’ve left the adult cases be­cause one could eas­ily ar­gue that I was not there and I didn’t know if she may have con­sented. I left it out be­cause I did not want to open the book up to an as­sump­tion and this superficial anal­y­sis.

“I’ve dealt only with the child­hood rapes be­cause these were dealt with in court, with the judge con­clud­ing that they most likely didn’t hap­pen. But there was not even a dis­pute about whether some­thing had hap­pened be­tween her and those un­cles. That was never the de­bate. And the men were pun­ished for hav­ing sex with a mi­nor,” said Tl­habi.

She added that when four women staged a silent protest dur­ing Pres­i­dent Jacob Zuma’s ad­dress at the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion re­sults centre (IEC) in Tsh­wane last year, Kh­wezi was freaked out that her name had been used.

“She ap­pre­ci­ated the sol­i­dar­ity in the protest, but she was freaked out. So I’m say­ing her fear was pal­pa­ble and I had taken it for granted when she said, ‘I’m ready to come out.’ But it also shows that some­times restora­tion hap­pens but it’s not a per­ma­nent po­si­tion; we re­lapse. Be­cause, quite frankly, sex­ual vi­o­lence in South Africa and toxic mas­culin­ity and power bring me to my knees. So it ends on restora­tion, be­cause that’s how we started. It was a work in progress,” she added.

Tl­habi said ev­ery­one has ques­tions to ask, as we are all part of a so­ci­ety that con­trib­utes to the loom­ing cri­sis of rape. She reck­ons that while the aim of the law is to re­store jus­tice, it is a fright­en­ing re­al­i­sa­tion for women to know that the law may not al­ways be there to pro­tect us.

“We do have a po­si­tion that the law is sacro­sanct and we need it be­cause of all the in­jus­tices; the aim of the law is to re­store jus­tice but can we re­ally sit back and re­lax, know­ing that we have the law to pro­tect us?

“I don’t think we al­ways have the law to pro­tect us and it’s a very fright­en­ing re­al­i­sa­tion for women liv­ing in this vi­o­lent so­ci­ety, ” she added.


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