The state pulled out all the stops on Wednesday to prove that Jacob Zuma raped an HIV-positive woman, saying his version of events was ”laughable” and ”fanciful”.
Prosecutor Charin de Beer described Zuma’s details of November 2 last year as ”recent fabrication” to enhance his claim of consensual sex.
De Beer, who read the state’s closing arguments from a thick file, said the woman would not have had sex with him without a condom, to protect her health. If she had wanted to have sex, she would have made sure one was handy.
The woman had also described herself as a lesbian, saying her last sex with a man was in July 2004. Before that, it was 1999.
She rejected Zuma’s explanation that he went ahead with condom-less sex because, in his Zulu culture, he could be accused of rape for leaving a woman sexually aroused.
”This is such an absurd reason to continue without a condom that it ought to be rejected out of hand as false. At the most it may be the Zuma tradition.”
De Beer also cast doubt on Zuma’s HIV status, saying the result showing he was HIV-negative was not submitted as part of court documents.
She said the woman would not have had sex with him because she viewed him as an uncle and had great respect for him. ”He played a supportive and advisory role.”
On November 2 the woman went to Zuma’s Johannesburg home after hearing that a relative had been bitten by a snake in Swaziland. She says Zuma invited her, Zuma says she invited herself. De Beer said it was important for Zuma that the woman be seen to have invited herself over.
She said at this stage Zuma did not have a plan to rape the woman, but saw it as an opportunity to have sex with her. She said that when the complainant arrived, he made her feel at ease to eliminate any resistance.
De Beer rejected Zuma’s evidence that the woman wore a skirt, sat inappropriately and later wore a kanga (wrap) without underwear to seduce him.
Questions Zuma posed about boyfriends and her need for a companion were an attempt by him to indirectly probe her availability. Although Zuma testified that the complainant had brought up the boyfriend conversations, De Beer said this was unlikely as she was a lesbian.
”Boyfriends are not the main thing on her brain.”
De Beer said that Zuma, by ordering the woman twice to prepare for bed and then showing her the guest bedroom, and the bed she should sleep in, indicated that he wanted her out of sight, and not sharing a room with his daughter, Duduzile.
Zuma told the court the woman had gone to his house as she had something important to discuss with him and mentioned this often throughout the night. He later went to wake her up to allow her to discuss the matter.
This scenario was unlikely and the woman, who has often been described as very talkative, would have been unable to keep the matter to herself for that long.
Zuma claims that after working he went to the woman in the guest room and told her to go up to his bedroom to discuss the matter. This was a test as he suspected the woman wanted to have sex.
”At the time the accused starts a series of monologues with himself,” said De Beer, recalling Zuma’s testimony that he wondered why she wore the kanga and how she would react to him.
The woman never told him what she wanted to talk about.
”The accused’s patience in this regard borders on the superhuman. It is late and she still did not talk about what she wanted to talk about. It is simply not true,” she said.
It was ”laughable” that the woman did not say anything when Zuma suddenly undressed in front of her. His mixing up of the sequence of events in the bedroom was typical of what happens when ”one fabricates a story”.
She said the absence of baby oil on the kanga the woman wore to bed also cast doubt on his account of a pre-coital massage. ”The whole massage story was to make the complainant look like the initiator in the run up to sex.”
Zuma testified that after the sex he had a shower and she left his room.
He went to the guest room afterwards because he was worried and thought he might need to do some ”damage control”.
It would have been normal for a man to phone a woman after they have had consensual sex if the woman had accused the man of rape. Zuma did not immediately do this.
Testimony that he was willing to pay lobola, as suggested by her ”aunts”, was ”to get rid of his problem. It was an obsession to get her to drop the charge.”
Efforts to drop rape charge
There was little doubt KwaZulu-Natal finance minister Zweli Mkhize tried to arrange for compensation to get her to drop the charge. ”There is little doubt Mkhize tried to broker a settlement,” De Beer told the court.
This was substantiated by a lawyer, Yusuf Dockrat, who pushed the complainant to drop the charge. She said Dockrat denied doing this, probably because he wanted to be seen as having behaved ethically.
De Beer agreed with Judge Willem van der Merwe that if the charge was false, Mkhize would have made the same efforts.
She said that on November 9, Zuma tried to phone the complainant eight times. She answered the ninth time after her minder in witness protection told her to. Zuma had asked to see her.
”[This was a] personal attempt by the accused to persuade the complainant to withdraw the charge,” De Beer said.
On the medical evidence, the absence of any foreplay and a lack of vaginal lubrication proved there was no consent.
”On her version, it is clear that she was raped,” De Beer said.
It is not yet known whether Van der Merwe will allow her past sexual history, which included allegations of numerous false rape accusations, many of which were allegedly directed at ministers of
Van der Merwe said he would place great importance on the testimony of a pastor, who was also her boarding master. Her mother thought he may have impregnated her daughter during one of her blackouts.
She had an abortion at five months.
”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?”
De Beer said it was very telling Zuma’s lawyer Michael Hulley was not called to the stand to back Zuma’s claim that he did not point out the guest room as the scene of the crime, as two police officers had testified. — Sapa