Vavi faces his rape accuser today

2013-07-29 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi will today face the woman who has accused him of rape when he appears in front of a Cosatu delegation to discuss the charge.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini yesterday confirmed the urgent meeting after the rape accusations were made public on Saturday.

Vavi, who will turn 51 in December, was accused by a 26-year-old female colleague of raping her in a Cosatu office on January 25.

Vavi admitted to a sexual relationship with the woman, but denied he had raped her. He said the woman and her husband had since tried to blackmail him and extort R2 million from him, months after he and the woman had sex.

He has since filed charges of extortion.

“On July 3, 2013 I received a letter … [containing] the complainant’s demand for payment of R2 million. This letter convinced my wife and myself that I was being blackmailed to pay this amount.”

The Vavis’ lawyers also viewed this letter as blackmail, he said. Six days later, the lawyers sent the woman and her husband a letter “informing them that what they were trying to do is blackmail and extortion”, he told the Mail & Guardian.

He has since laid a charge of extortion, which was also shown in the court papers on Saturday.

Vavi has publicly apologised for having an affair while he had “the perfect marriage”.

A recent tweet from him reads: “I know many are extremely disappointed at news that I have admitted to have cheated on my wife. I have apologised to her profusely.”

His wife, Noluthando, gave birth to the couple’s twins on February 28.

Professor Bonke Dumisa, an analyst at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said Vavi’s philandering was a bonus for his enemies.

Vavi is an outspoken critic of President Jacob Zuma, the government and the ANC. He is also one of the leaders of opposition to the government’s e-toll system in Gauteng.

Dumisa said many of Vavi’s opponents in the tri-partite alliance were irritated by his regular criticisms of the ANC and the party’s leadership.

He said it was public knowledge that many senior leaders in the ANC and Cosatu could not wait to see the end of Vavi and would do what they could to get rid of him. For them, any moral fault by Vavi was a bonus.

By last night, the woman had not laid an official rape charge with the police.

It is not the first charge of a sexual nature made against Vavi. In 2004, Bheki Ngema, then still the husband of Noluthando Vavi, had also laid a charge of sexual misconduct against Vavi at Cosatu. Ngema was, however, convinced to drop the charges and later divorced Noluthando, who then married Vavi.

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