Zuma’s defence closes its case

Former deputy president Jacob Zuma will know ”as soon as possible” whether he will be convicted of rape, Johannesburg High Court Judge Willem van der Merwe said on Tuesday.

”Yes, let me say that I want to do it as soon as possible for obvious reasons,” said Van der Merwe.

With the words: ”My lord, that is then the case for the defence,” Zuma’s advocate Kemp J Kemp on Tuesday brought a close to the case that has gripped the nation.

Afterwards, Zuma clasped Kemp’s hand in his and told him: ”Thank you, thank you so much.”

The six-week trial ended with dramatic testimony from forensic psychologist Louise Olivier, who lists among her qualifications her residency as the agony aunt for the popular You magazine.

She was put into the witness box to analyse trauma specialist Merle Friedman’s testimony that Zuma’s accuser did not resist the alleged rape because she froze and was in a disassociative state.

Olivier repeatedly told the court numerous tests and evaluations could have been conducted on the woman and that a full medical, mental and sexual history was important, especially in rape cases.

”You cannot make a diagnosis if you do not take every aspect of what you are evaluating into account.”

Earlier in the trial, Friedman told the court she spent more than two hours with the woman and regarded many tests as inappropriate because they where not ”normed” for South Africa.

Zuma has claimed the two had consensual sex at his Johannesburg home on November 2 last year and that he was shocked to hear she had laid a charge of rape against him.

Olivier testified that in her literature, only 10% of rape victims ”froze”, and there was a difference between freezing and not resisting. A position of authority, such as Zuma’s, did not necessarily mean the woman would freeze while being raped.

Literature showed this usually depended on the rapist’s dominance and aggression. The complainant’s personality was also important to how she reacted. This would be different if the victim was a child, because a child was dependent on an authoritarian figure.

She told the court it was unusual for the woman to have fought off a rapist when she was a teenager, but not when she was an adult, considering children had less life experience and skills.

”Obviously there are women who do freeze,” Olivier continued. Under cross-examination, state prosecutor Herman Broodryk produced one of Olivier’s advice columns in which she advised a rape victim that it was ”normal” for women to freeze during rape.

Defending her advice, Olivier explained that this was clinical psychology and not the forensic psychology she dealt with in courts. She also had to be careful that a reader didn’t commit suicide after reading her advice and she usually referred people to other specialists.

Zuma’s accuser’s ability to remember the finer details of what he had said to her during the alleged rape was ”not compatible” with the theory that she froze and was in a disassociative state, Olivier told the court.

She noted that the woman had not locked herself into the room when Zuma left — common behaviour for rape victims. She also did not shower immediately afterwards.

”I’ve seen people who have been raped and they sit there and wash themselves for hours, scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing,” Olivier testified.

She agreed with Friedman’s assertion that the woman did not show any signs of depression, but felt signs of depression could be expected after what the woman had experienced. She did not agree with Friedman that the woman had an exaggerated startle-response and questioned why Friedman had warned her that she was going to be checked for this.

Olivier also disagreed that the woman was dazed after the alleged rape. She had made phone calls, had a shower, packed a lunch and caught a taxi to work. A person in a daze would be ”semi-functioning” and although still be able to get through the day, would make blunders such as catching the wrong taxi or phoning the incorrect person.

Olivier put forward a number of theories to explain the woman’s behaviour. Emotional transference could lead a victim of previous rape to perceive consensual sex as rape afterwards, she told the court. ”She could have consensual sex, but because of transference from the past there is a change in what one believes.”

Abuse during childhood could lead to a borderline personality disorder which leads a person to put themselves into a dangerous position. There was also a delusional psychological state in which a person could make a claim they believed was valid.

The woman has claimed to have been raped when she was five-years-old and twice when she was 13.

Zuma’s defence team has produced witnesses who have claimed she has alleged at least 10 incidents of rape in the past. Olivier testified that so many incidents of rape and attempted rape were rare.

Closing arguments will be heard on April 26 and 28 with May 2 and 3 set aside should the need arise. — Sapa

An actual Black Friday deal

Subscribe for R2/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Jenni Evans
Guest Author

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Poisoned: Tshwane’s boreholes, taps and soil

Foul water runs out of Hammanskraal’s taps and farmers can’t grow crops because the City of Tshwane’s Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant contaminates the soil and groundwater

SIU still to settle civil cases totalling R6.3bn

The Special Investigating Unit has cases dating back to 2019, but rejected that this is a problem

‘Explosive’ jobs crisis imperils South Africa

Experts’ strategies for fixing the unemployment crisis range from devaluing the rand to a universal income grant or accepting debt from loans

South Africa’s newest national park will be in an agricultural...

People living on communal land and commercial farmers can incorporate their land into the new park and benefit from financial incentives

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…