Trib­utes pour in for singer and ac­tivist Kh­wezi

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - IDA JOOSTE

IT WAS a farewell to some­one who had a cir­cle of friends, fam­ily and com­mu­nity around her. Some­one who’s name was not just “Kh­wezi, the rape ac­cuser”. Her name was Fezekile Kuzwayo.

An in­ti­mate me­mo­rial at the of­fices of Sec­tion 27 in Braam­fontein saw Aids ac­tivists and friends gather to re­mem­ber the woman who stood up against Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma as his rape ac­cuser.

Zuma was ac­quit­ted of the the charge and Kuzwayo went into hid­ing in the Nether­lands and later in KwaZulu-Na­tal.

This week she died in a hos­pi­tal in Jo­han­nes­burg – an ac­tivist who sought jus­tice to the end.

Dur­ban jour­nal­ist Ida Jooste re­mem­bers a so­prano with mis­matched ear­rings and a joke and smile to share. TUES­DAY is choir day. I look for­ward to re­hearsals, not I am Khanga What about the tear that ran down my face as I lay stiff with shock; In what sick world is that sex In what sick world is that con­sent The same world where the rapist be­comes the vic­tim The same world where I be­come the bitch that must burn The same world where I am forced into ex­ile be­cause I spoke out? This is NOT my world

– Fezekile“Kh­wezi”Kuzwayo only be­cause singing is fun and the mu­sic mag­nif­i­cent, but be­cause Fezekile and I will do an ear­ring check. I ad­mire her stylishly mis­matched ear­rings and she ad­mires my dan­gly ones.

She prom­ises never to let me down by wear­ing bor­ing ear­rings, and I prom­ise the same.

This past Satur­day, the Dur­ban Sym­phonic Choir had an ex­tra­or­di­nary re­hearsal: the first ses­sion with mae­stro Jus­tus Frantz, who had come to Dur­ban by spe­cial in­vite to con­duct Mozart’s Re­quiem, a mass for the dead.

He told us the story of how the 9/11 at­tack in New York gal­vanised mem­bers of his Phi­lar­monie of Na­tions orches­tra to drive across Europe to per­form Mozart’s Re­quiem for a sol­i­dar­ity con­cert in Ham­burg the next day.

In Novem­ber, Frantz is per- form­ing the Re­quiem for the Pope at the Vat­i­can, be­cause he is wor­ried about the state of the world.

I ar­rived at re­hearsal and saw that my ear­ring mate was miss­ing. I’m a bit wor­ried about her, be­cause she had lost so much weight, but I don’t think more of it.

Then, on Sun­day morn­ing, news comes through: the death of “Kh­wezi, Zuma’s rape ac­cuser”. I think of Kh­wezi, un­known to me, but the scenes of the court case in 2006 dart through my mind. I am an­gry. An­gry at how the vic­tim be­came the vil­lain. An­gry at the be­trayal by a League of Women who ought to have un­der­stood. They pro­foundly let her down – and let down all women who are brave enough to call out abuse of power.

I read Kh­wezi’s poem, I am Khanga, to try to find mean­ing:

Most peo­ple in the choir did not know.

In me­dia ac­counts we hear that neigh­bours in KwaMashu did not know.

Lindi Man­dulo, an­other so­prano who met Fezekile when she joined the choir in 2013, says: “I would like to re­mem­ber her as Fezekile, not Kh­wezi, the rape ac­cuser. She was so des­per­ate to have her real name back.

“Her iden­tity is Fezekile Kuzwayo, the sweet­est per­son I have known. Ours was a friend­ship with­out clut­ter. I ac­cepted and loved her.’’

Fezekile Kuzwayo (cen­tre) sings with the Dur­ban Sym­phonic Choir.

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