Publication: Cape Times
was ironic that yesterday's judgment in the rape trial of former deputy
president Jacob Zuma coincided with celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of
the adoption of South Africa's new constitution.
On both occasions, it
was reaffirmed that the country is governed by one of the best constitutions in
the world, and that it is based on the rule of
In the case of Zuma, high court Judge Willem van der Merwe
found in a comprehensive and considered six-hour
judgment that the state had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zuma
had raped the complainant.
Details of the charge were dealt with at
length, and the judge scathingly dismissed most aspects of
it outright, especially the testimony of the complainant. He found that
Zuma's accuser had consented to sex with him.
South Africans must accept the judgment. We must respect and uphold the
independence and integrity of the judiciary, which is a cornerstone of our
The judge did, however, raise several issues that
will still be heatedly debated for a long time. Among these are the abuse of
women and, by implication, the abnormally high incidence of rape in South
He also singled out a stated view that a not-guilty verdict in
this matter would stifle the reporting of rape complaints in future.
However, it was not for this court to deal with the issue of violence
against women, generally.
That is something that we, as a society, must
confront and resolve.
It is also important to note that, while Zuma may
have walked out of court a free man, the judge sent him on his way with a
paraphrased poem of Rudyard Kipling ringing in his ears: "If you can control
your body and your sexual urges, then you are a man, my son."
He was referring to the morality and wisdom of Zuma having
unprotected sex with a woman who is not his regular partner, who is half his age
and who is HIV-positive. The judge described this as "totally
It will now be left to the court of public opinion
to decide on Zuma's inability to exercise proper
judgment and whether he is, in fact, fit for high office.
With acknowledgements to Cape Times.
How this case made it to the High Court should be a
matter for review.
But it kept the press busy and public bemused for
nearly seven months.
The Acquitted's legal bill must be appalling, a
heavy price to pay for a ten minute stand with a psychologically troubled and
physically ill person.
On the matter of an ability to exercise proper
judgment and fitness for office, it was reported that the Acquitted was prepared
to offer lobola in compensation for the ten minute stand.
is surely no rapist, but is he fit?