Publication: Cape Times Issued: Date: 2006-05-08 Reporter: Reporter: Reporter:

Legality and Morality



Cape Times





Web Link


It 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 law.

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.

All South Africans must accept the judgment. We must respect and uphold the independence and integrity of the judiciary, which is a cornerstone of our emerging democracy.

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 Africa.

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 unacceptable".

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.

The Acquitted is surely no rapist, but is he fit?