'I have been raped by comrades before. They force women to sleep with them, even now, because they have the power to do so. And no one dares to speak out.' The culture of violence has never ceased to exist in the South-African ANC, even after the end of apartheid, says Fezeka Kuzwayo
. Kuzwayo is the woman who accused former vice president Jacob Zuma
of raping her.
The rape trial that followed led to Zumas acquittal, because 'the state had not proven the case beyond reasonable doubt.' As it turns out, Kuzwayo and her mother have gotten political asylum in the Netherlands. Dutch correspondent Kees Broere
has the scoop this morning with an interview in de Volkskrant
with the now 32 year old Kuzwayo.
The trial against former vice president Jacob Zuma in Johannesburg led to sometimes nauseating expressions of misogyny. Zuma's supporters cried out to 'Burn the bitch' and publicly denounced the woman who had dared to press rape charges against the man who was like an uncle to her. Kuswayo was contempted and threatened and isolated by the party that she and her family devoted their lives to in the struggle against apartheid.
It is hard to speak out about sexual violence, as any woman knows who has ever experienced this. Especially when the perpetrator is someone close to you - as in 40 percent of the cases in South-Africa. When a woman has the guts to go to the police, often what is called 'a second rape' awaits her.
The women in Eastern Congo who dared to go on the streets and demonstrate against the massive rapes during the war, were called 'whores of the Rwandans' by some bystanders. Even in The Netherlands only a tiny part of all rape cases that get to court led to a conviction - a much lower percentage than for any other kind of crime that is judged. On the other hand the media tend to have a bigger interest in a handful of false accusations than in the boat load of real victims.
In Kuzwayo's case it turns out that the threats did not stop after the acquittal. In May 2006 Kuzwayo and her mother came to the Netherlands on a business visa. After that had expired, they applied for political asylum, that has been granted last month.
I was often infuriated by the macho display of Zuma's supporters. Kuzwayo's name was dragged through the mire and she was publicly humiliated in all sorts of ways. I often felt powerless: wasn't there anything I could do to let her know that she did not stand alone in this?
It is terrible to learn now that she and her mother felt they had to flee their country. In South-Africa a woman is raped every 26 seconds. Only seven percent of reported cases lead to conviction. Let's not keep silent about this.