You are here

PLEASE READ: title on this letter says Address by His Excellency President Zuma

Mohammed Sameer's Friends' Facebook Notes - Mon, 09/05/2011 - 11:11am

 I have just checked my mail only to find this letter forwarded to me and other activists...first response was shock followed by What the HELL? and now its if only! AMANDLA TO YOU!!! PLEASE READ, SHARE...NGISAMANGELE...LOL!

9 May 2011

 

My fellow South Africans,

Today, 9 May 2011, marks the anniversary of a grave miscarriage of justice. On this day five years ago, I was found not guilty of rape by Judge Van der Merwe in the South Gauteng High Court. The years since that fateful day have been very fruitful for me. I was elected President of the Republic of South Africa, have married twice more, have been able to use my power to avoid further criminal charges and have increased both my own wealth and that of my family. Despite this good fortune, however, I find myself wracked by guilt over my actions all those years ago. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to come clean, to tell the full story of how I got away with rape and beg the forgiveness of both the country and the woman I raped.

 

I did indeed rape Khwezi, on 2 November 2005 in my Forest Town home. I did not imagine for one moment that either her silence or her dress signaled consent; the fact that I used both these arguments in court was little more than a cry to popular stereotypes and patriarchal notions in order to justify my unjustifiable actions. I betrayed the trust of a woman who was a family friend and the child of a close comrade, and who was a visitor in my home. I abused my knowledge of her history of sexual violence, not least the fact that systems of justice had let her down before when she was raped at a young age.

 

That I escaped any punishment for my actions is hardly surprising given the appalling record of the criminal justice system in South Africa in dealing with cases of sexual violence. I could have every expectation, as can any man charged with rape in South Africa, that between the systemic misogyny that exists within the justice system and its horrifically dysfunctional operation more generally, I could indeed get away with it. My cause, however, was helped greatly by a lawyer who had no qualms about tearing Khwezi’s reputation, dignity and life to shreds. I was further aided by a judge who considered his role to lie not only in passing judgment on my guilt or innocence but also in passing extensive judgment on the morality of all concerned, not least Khwezi. Indeed, at some points, it seemed as if it were she rather than I who was on trial, as epitomized by the fact that while details of my sexual history were suppressed, hers were dismembered and put on show for the world to see. I said nothing about these horrific instances of injustice because my political ambition required that I not only be found not guilty but that the name and dignity of my accuser be utterly destroyed.

 

For all of these things, I owe the people of South Africa an apology. In a country in the grip of an epidemic of sexual violence in which more than 500,000 women are raped each year, in a country in which misogyny and a culture of entitlement to women’s bodies is endemic in the male population, people had a right to expect more of someone with ambitions to the highest levels of office. I failed utterly to meet these expectations. I perpetrated the worst forms of violence and used every trick in the book to avoid justice and to humiliate and discredit Khwezi.

Khwezi, to you I owe a particular apology, though I do not imagine for a second that you will or should accept it. You visited my home as a guest and were subjected to horrific sexual violence; you dared to speak out about your attack and for this act you were subjected to another kind of violence – this time at the hands of my lawyers, the criminal justice system and the general public. You are now forced to live in exile far from home; after years of dedication to South Africans and particularly to the rights of women and people living with HIV and Aids you find yourself unable to set foot in your home country because of your fear. Fear of people who in the name of supporting me subjected you to an onslaught of insults and threats of physical violence, threats like those I heard every day during the trial, threats I made no attempt to silence and indeed stoked.

There are many regrets I harbor in relation to my behavior over the last few years – my unacceptable sexist and homophobic utterances, my betrayal of the working classes whom I shamelessly used to attain power and my use of political office to escape damning corruption charges. There is, however, nothing I regret more than my actions that night over five years ago and my subsequent behavior as the trial unfolded. It has become clear to me and, I am sure by now to you, the people of South Africa, that my position as President of the Republic has become untenable. I have, therefore, no choice but to announce to all of you today my decision to resign with immediate effect. I have communicated this decision to the Cabinet and to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who will take over as acting President with immediate effect and until such time as new elections are called.

I thank you,

Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma