'I told Vavi no'

2013-07-28 14:00

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Zwelinzima Vavi in rape and extortion scandal.

“I told him no. I asked him to stop and he continued to lift up the dress that I was wearing and fondled my private parts. I pushed my dress down and asked that he stop. He did not stop. He put me on the floor and forced himself on me.”

That was what union federation Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s 26-year-old rape accuser told the federation in a grievance letter she sent them earlier this month.

She continued: “The general secretary raped me and when I confronted him about it he said that he did not hear me say ‘no’. He noticed that I was disturbed. Besides what he saw, I sent him messages and told him that I was not happy with what had happened and that I cannot understand why he thinks it was right.”

Vavi’s accuser, who cannot be named for legal and ethical reasons, is a young mother who still works for Cosatu in its administration department.

The strikingly beautiful woman, who comes from a small town in Eastern Cape, worked closely with Vavi.

Pictures she has posted on Facebook – featuring her children, husband and mother – show her to be a happy young wife.

In his response to the federation, Vavi has insisted that the sex between him and the woman was consensual and that she tried to blackmail him, demanding R2?million from him for her rape claims to go away.

Before news of the rape and blackmail scandal broke yesterday, Vavi told City Press his wife has forgiven him for having sex with the woman.

On Friday, Vavi confirmed the allegations but denied he had raped her. Yesterday, he publicly released his entire statement to Cosatu, in which he defends himself against the rape claims.

He admitted to having sex with the complainant in a Cosatu office in January – days before his wife Noluthando gave birth to their twins – after an affair that began in October last year.

“I have to be truthful to the public. I have had to deal with my family for not being faithful and it is a difficult matter. I apologise to everyone for having had an affair while I have a perfect marriage.

“I shouldn’t have done that. It was a bad error on my side. I shouldn’t have had a relationship at all,” Vavi told City Press.

“My wife was angry, but she has been forgiving to me and realised that I was being set up. It has been hard on the family, because we have children.”

Noluthando, whom Vavi married a week after his divorce from his previous wife was finalised, was not available for comment.

In his statement yesterday, Vavi said neither of them would be available for further comment.

City Press also has a copy of an emailed “letter of demand”, purportedly from the woman and her husband to NoluthandoVavi, demanding a R2?million payment for them to keep quiet.

Read more about the email in which Vavi's rape accuser had warned him that her husband was a "loose cannon".

Vavi said he had laid a charge of extortion with the Sandton police this week.

The police confirmed the charge.

There is no indication in the documents in City Press’ possession that the woman has laid a rape charge against Vavi.

She refused to speak this weekend, saying she would rather rely on Cosatu’s internal processes.

“I am not going to say anything. Feel free to write what you want,” she said.

The woman’s grievance describes an incident on January 25, in which Vavi came to her office and made advances to her. In Vavi’s formal response, he confirms a relationship with the woman, which began about three months before, which involved “kissing and hugging”.

On that day in January, he said he locked the door to the office so no one could come in.

“Brief intercourse took place while we were standing. At no stage did she ask me to stop. After that, I asked her affectionately if she was OK and, when she assured me she was OK, I left the office,” he wrote.

“Later that day, I received a shocking text message from her saying: ‘That was not consensual.’”

Vavi’s statement also reveals how, late last month, his wife was confronted with a tape recording his accuser claimed was made by Vavi’s political enemies who had bugged his office.

Read more about the mysterious recording sent to Vavi's wife.

But Vavi said the recording was clearly made by his accuser and, in it, she had tried to get him to admit the sex was not consensual.

“Despite my wife’s anger, my wife immediately realised I was being set up and told me so,” wrote Vavi.

Noluthando Vavi “played along” and met her husband’s accuser and her husband on July 1.

The couple asked Vavi’s wife not to leave him and said they hoped “we can come to an understanding”.

The “letter of demand” followed this meeting and Vavi’s lawyers responded, accusing the couple of blackmail.

In the letter, Vavi’s lawyers denied the rape, insisting the sex was consensual and threatened to sue for defamation and report an extortion attempt to the police.

Vavi gave Cosatu the letter of demand, as well as his lawyer’s letter and other material, which he argues show he and the woman had a normal, cordial relationship for months after the alleged rape.

“This grievance was supposed to be an internal matter, but it has been turned into a political gimmick,” Vavi said on Friday.

“There are two families and children on both sides involved in this extremely delicate matter. Their interests are foremost in my mind as we go through this period.

“I have engaged lawyers and I am ready and willing to appear before any legitimate body to clear my name. I vehemently deny allegations made against me by the staff member concerned.”

He also insisted that he will not resign.

“I am also fully aware that because of my work and life, this matter obviously offers a gold mine for those fishing for sensational stories?.?.?.

“Lately, as we all know, these efforts to destroy me have intensified. I am unable not to view this matter in the same light,” he said.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini declined to comment, saying that, if it existed, it was an internal matter.

Read more about the SMS exchanges between Vavi and his rape accuser.

The text trail

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