Publication: Noseweek Issued: Date: 2003-09-01 Reporter:

The Sins of the Children




Date September 2003, Issue 49

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The Son : Rape Crisis

Deputy President Jacob Zuma's son, Mziwoxolo, 24, was arrested on 22 October 2000 for allegedly raping a fellow student at the University of Zululand. The girl was in her first year and not yet 18. Mziwoxolo, usually known by his English name, Edward, was released on bail and the case was set for trial two months later.

The deputy president was in Cuba at the time of the alleged incident. In late October 2000 his office issued a statement saying that his son and the girl had discussed the matter and had resolved it amicably. Zuma's spokeswoman Mathula Magubane told Sapa that the "rape" complainant had willingly withdrawn the charges, saying she had acted emotionally rather than rationally in "a lovers' tiff".

Indeed, a few days before Christmas, when Mziwoxolo appeared in the Mtunzini magistrate's court, the prosecutor announced that he was withdrawing the charge on instruction from the regional prosecuting authority. That was the public version.

Privately, it now emerges, it took a little more than a discussion to persuade the woman to change her story.

The urgent talks (in the week of the alleged rape) took place in the Durban offices of Schabir Shaik, Jacob Zuma's former intelligence agent and the man who today handles his personal finances. The reason? It seems a financial inducement was required to assist the young lady to decide whether she had been raped or not.

Noseweek was tipped off that Schabir Shaik had intervened to assist Zuma junior - and that the woman had been put on the payroll of one of his companies, Kobitech Transport Services.

The alleged rape victim's attorney, Linda Mazibuko, confirms that settlement talks took place with Shaik, but won't reveal the settlement terms.

The victim herself could not be traced for comment. She had left her last known address in Durban when we called there. A cellphone number we were given is constantly "not available".

Approached for comment, the then managing director of Kobitech Transport Services, Sabeer Sheik, said he was aware of the "pay-off", but insisted he was innocent of any wrongdoing - he had only become aware of the pay-off after the fact.

Sheik (not to be confused with Schabir Shaik) said that last year when his company was preparing an application to the IDC, he checked over the company's accounts and noticed names on the payroll that were definitely not company employees. One was that of Zuma junior's former girlfriend and alleged rape victim. She had been paid "some thousands" each month for at least six months. Other staff confirmed that they saw her regularly at the offices when she "came to collect her money".

Sheik said that at the time he was concerned not only for his own profits - he is a minority shareholder - but in order to get IDC financing his company needed to look tightly run. He had to approach the company's accountant, Colin Isaacs, and his fellow director Schabir Shaik for an explanation.

They had eventually admitted that the woman was the alleged victim of Mziwoxolo Zuma - and the only way to have her "go away" was to offer her a regularly monthly pay-off as an employee.

"I told them I did not care what they did for Zuma, provided it was not at my expense, so they transferred the item out of Transport Services accounts - I think to that of Kobi Holdings," - Sheik said.

The control prosecutor in the rape case, Mduduzi Mzila, told newsweek charges against Zuma junior were withdrawn after the alleged victim claimed she would not be able to give evidence in court as she feared the trauma and stress of being cross-questioned would see her break down. She had earlier told police that she wanted to see a prosecution take place and would be a reliable witness.

Among the documents seized from the Nkobi Holdings offices by the Scorpions are documents related to the payment of staff of Kobitech.

An investigator told noseweek : "We are loath to probe the matter as it does not fall within the ambit of investigating the arms deal. We might have to be careful what we do."

When he asked Bianca Singh, the former personal assistant to Schabir Shaik, what she knew about the matter, she referred us to her "spokesperson" - her stepfather, Bernard Otway.

Said Otway, a used car dealer: "What do you think? Of course she knows about the rape story involving Mzi (Mziwoxolo). Bianca was Shaik's PA, she was in the room when these things were discussed. She was in the room when Zuma was discussed."

"I'm not a stupid man," added Otway, "the Scorpions initially got all heavy-handed with us and demanded Bianca talk to them and give them a statement. She gave a statement as she was subpoenaed and had to. But we have taken all the evidence and books and documents and concealed them in safe places. Nobody, not the media nor the Scorpions, nor anybody will find them."

The Daughter : Identity Crisis

And then there's the deputy president's daughter, Yvonne. A bit of a socialite and spendthrift - she constantly lives beyond her means and has an appalling credit record. So much so that earlier this year she could not get finance to buy a new car.

No problem with someone with Zuma connections.

By some miraculous means, Ms Zuma has aquired a new ID book with an entirely new ID number - a number which, when given to potential grantors of credit, does not automatically bring up her bad "old" record with the country's major credit control agencies.

Yvonne Zuma's original ID number is 6703021071082. That number instantly brings up a computerised history of bounced cheques and bad debts. But now she's got a new number : 6603021095083. If you punched in that number, up would come .. yes, our Yvonne, but now with a credit record as clean as a whistle.

The credit "cleanup" did come at some cost to Ms Zuma : for the privilege of a new ID number, she's had to become a year older than she, in fact, is.

Earlier this year Yvonne lost her job at CellC - and is back at the SABC, where she describes her job as "government liason".

With acknowledgement to Noseweek.