Zuma: ‘Efforts made’ to drop rape charge

There was no doubt efforts were made to persuade Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser to drop the charge, the Johannesburg High Court heard on Wednesday.

State prosecutor Charin de Beer said KwaZulu-Natal finance minister Zweli Mkhize said if he arranged for compensation, the woman would have to drop the charge.

”There is little doubt Mkhize tried to broker a settlement,” she told the court during closing arguments at Zuma’s rape trial.

De Beer said this was substantiated by a lawyer, Yusuf Dockrat, having ”pushed” the complainant to drop the charge. Dockrat’s intervention was arranged by Mkhize, and the complainant said he had encouraged her to drop the charge.

She said Dockrat had in his testimony denied doing this, most probably because he wanted to be seen as having behaved ethically.

De Beer agreed with Judge Willem van der Merwe that if the charge were false, Mkhize would have made the same efforts.

She said that on November 9, Zuma tried to contact the complainant by phone eight times. By the ninth time, she answered after her minder in witness protection instructed her to do so. In that conversation, Zuma said he wanted to talk to the woman.

”[This was a] personal attempt by the accused to persuade the complainant to withdraw the charge,” De Beer said.

On the complainant’s denying to newspapers that Zuma had raped her, De Beer said this was also on the instruction of her minder.

On testimony by forensic psychologist Dr Louise Olivier, for the defence, De Beer said the woman had not examined the complainant. She said if the complainant’s psychological evaluation had been done as Olivier testified it should have been, the end result would not necessarily have been different.

De Beer said the woman’s usual psychologist was made available to Olivier, but she never contacted this person.

On testimony by trauma specialist Dr Merle Friedman, who was called by the state, De Beer said it was clear Friedman had morals and was experienced.

She said Olivier was not able to dispute most of Friedman’s evidence.

Friedman said the complainant did not resist Zuma when he allegedly raped her, because she ”froze”.

De Beer said it was clear that the woman had not consented to the sex, as Zuma claims, because she said no immediately before the alleged rape, and her actions afterwards indicated that she had not consented.

”She did nothing to make the accused believe she had consented or she was consenting.”

‘No consent’

De Beer also said the absence of any foreplay and a lack of vaginal lubrication proved there was no consent from Zuma’s accuser. ”The very absence of foreplay activities confirms that there was no consent.”

She said: ”The complainant’s vagina not being lubricated is in the state’s submission an indication that she was unprepared for sex and was raped.”

Zuma’s endearments and kisses during the incident were just to elicit some response from her, including asking whether he could ejaculate inside her. ”On her version, it is clear that she was raped.”

Giving some insight into the complexities of the case, Judge Van der Merwe asked why Zuma would have made sure the woman was asleep before approaching her, and risking an unpredictable reaction.

”Why would he wake her up? That creates some difficulty in my mind.”

De Beer said Zuma returned to the room afterwards because his conscience was troubling him. This led Van der Merwe to remark: ”That is contrary to what you would expect from a rapist.”

De Beer conceded that some of the complainant’s behaviour was ”strange”, including that she did not have a shower afterwards, but said this was due to shock.

Van der Merwe said he would place great importance on the testimony of the pastor (also the accuser’s) boarding master who, according to the complainant’s mother, impregnated her daughter during one of her blackouts.

”A lot will turn on what I make of the boarding master’s evidence,” said Van der Merwe. ”If it was not rape … what then?”

Van der Merwe deliberated whether this meant that ”rape” was used in the wrong context.

He referred to the SMSs that the complainant sent after the alleged rape.

The court heard at the beginning of the trial that the woman SMSed her friend to say that Zuma was looking at her in a sexual way and wrote ”there must be something in my drawers”.

Van der Merwe said she could have been planting a seed for something to discuss later.

He said the SMSs could indicate whether she was in control of her thoughts at the time.

Earlier, De Beer said Zuma’s accuser would not have had consensual sex with him without a condom and that the HIV-positive woman had been adamant in her testimony that she would have used a condom.

The trial continues. — Sapa

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