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Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, the President of South Africa starting in 2009 and current president of the governing political party, the African National Congress (ANC), was charged with rape in the Johannesburg High Court on 6 December 2005. The accuser, Zuma's deceased friend's daughter, was known by Zuma to be HIV positive. On 8 May 2006, the Court dismissed the charges, agreeing that the sexual act in question was consensual. During the trial, Zuma admitted to having unprotected sex with his accuser but claimed that he took a shower afterwards to cut the risk of contracting HIV. This statement has been condemned by the judge, health experts, AIDS activists and the public in general.

Pre-trial eventsEdit

In November, 2005 an investigation began into charges that he had raped a 31 year old family friend at his home in Forest Town, Johannesburg. Even before charges were filed, the news media reported that the alleged victim was a member of a prominent ANC family and also an AIDS activist; and that Zuma had acknowledged a consensual sexual relationship with the woman in question.

On the morning of December 6, 2005, rape charges against Zuma were formally filed. Zuma vehemently denied the charges, and affirmed his political commitment to oppose sexual violence.

File:Zuma-court-crowd.jpg

Even before charges were filed, as rumors about rape accusations surfaced later in November Zuma's political prospects began to appear to take a turn for the worse. Most of Zuma's higher-level political supporters could not respond to these new charges the way they had the corruption charges. These allegations seemed at first to take the steam out of Zuma's supporters, but in a hearing prior to Zuma's rape trial, a group of thousands of Zuma supporters gathered near the courthouse, as a smaller gathering of anti-rape groups demonstrated on behalf of the alleged rape survivor. [1]

TrialEdit

Jacob Zuma was tried in the Johannesburg High Court. As he did throughout the trial, Zuma sang Awulethu Mshini Wami (Bring my machine gun) with the crowd, and ANC Youth League and Communist Party Youth League spokesmen spoke in support of Zuma. [2] Zuma had not entirely lost his support base.

As Zuma's rape trial proceeded, reports surfaced that the South African Communist Party was severely divided over how to address the issue of Zuma and the SACP's relationship to him. Many members of the party's youth wing supported Zuma while others in the SACP were skeptical about the value of rallying behind a particular person as opposed to emphasizing principles of governance. [3]

Despite the defection of some former supporters, however Zuma stalwarts continued to rally outside the courthouse, arousing criticism by anti-rape groups for regular attacks on the integrity and moral standing of Zuma's accuser, insults yelled at a close friend of the accuser, and even stones thrown at a woman that members of the crowd mistook for the accuser.[4]. Zuma's defense team introduced evidence relating to the woman's sexual past, and asserted that the sex that took place was consensual. The prosecution asserted that her lack of resistance was due to a state of shock, and that the relationship between the two was like that of a 'father-daughter' pair.[5]

The trial also generated political controversy when Zuma, who headed the National AIDS Council, admitted that he had not used a condom when having sex with the woman who now accuses him of rape, despite knowing that she was HIV-positive. He stated in court that he took a shower to try to reduce his risk of infection, upsetting HIV educators who emphasized that this would do nothing to prevent HIV transmission.[6]

ResultEdit

On May 8, 2006, the court found Zuma not guilty of the charge of rape.

On July 3, 2007, Fezeka Kuzwayo, the woman who brought the rape charges against Mr. Zuma, was granted asylum in The Netherlands.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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