Rapists need to be shamed publicly – Khwezi protester

2016-11-25 14:48
Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Cape Town - One of the women who protested in the name of President Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser during the 2016 local elections results briefing, says rapists need to feel the social consequences of their actions.

"The silence we need to break is not the fact that rape happens in this country," Wits master's student Simamkele Dlakavu said at the SA Institute for Advancement in Cape Town on Friday.

"We know that rape happens in this country. Victims and survivors speak out against it. The silence we need to break is who these rapists are."

The event was held to remember Fezekile "Khwezi" Kuzwayo and the 60th anniversary of the Women’s March to the Union Buildings.

Dlakavu said South Africans lived in a country that pretended rape was a "perpetratorless crime".

"But we know who they are; sometimes they are fathers, they are uncles, they’re lecturers and brothers. In naming and shaming them, there is a social cost to their action.

"It’s to make sure that the burden of shame is not only on the women and her body. The rapist must feel the blame and the social cost of the rape."

She spoke about a rape this month at the Wits Junction, where she lives. Young, black women not only held management accountable, but demanded that the perpetrator, who was known, leave the building. It was important that he not feel comfortable, she said.

'Your stomach turns’

Dlakavu spoke along with award-winning journalist Zubeida Jaffer and analyst Nomboniso Gasa.

On Friday, Zuma was at the announcement of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign in Limpopo.

The breakfast started with a reading of a powerful, moving and uncomfortable poem Kuzwayo wrote in 2008, titled I am Khanga.

In May 2006, the High Court in Johannesburg found Zuma not guilty of raping her. She died on October 8.

In her poem, she speaks of a man who was her father’s best friend, who tried to convince her that her "signals" were suggesting she wanted to have sex with him, despite her mouth "twice saying 'no'."

"Listening to Khwezi, your heart turns, your stomach turns," Jaffer said at the start of her speech.

"It’s simply outrageous that someone had to live through what she did. And not from someone we do not know, but from the president of the country. This is shocking to the core, and something we cannot ever condone."

She was proud that the younger generation of black South African women were speaking out, and she hoped they would continue the fight against rape.

Zuma must choose: rape or incest

Gasa, a cultural and political analyst, said it was important for young women to study the history of women’s movements in the country, as there was a tendency to erase the impact of women protesters over the last century.

She compared Zuma to Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo.

María Argentina Minerva Mirabal Reyes was one of three Dominican sisters who opposed Trujillo’s dictatorship. His henchmen killed them on November 25, 1960. They called themselves "Las Mariposas"- the butterflies.

In honour of the sisters, on December 17, 1999, the UN General Assembly declared November 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It marks the beginning of a 16-day period of activism against gender violence.

"This notion of men who abuse their power, and their assumed desire to express their power through the conquest of women, is not new," Gasa said.

"This assumed right led Jacob Zuma, who is now our president, to decide to have sexual intercourse with Khwezi."

Gasa said the judge in Zuma’s rape trial, Willem van der Merwe, did not find Zuma had not raped Kuzwayo, but that there was no evidence to prove it.

"In the cultural milieu, as a '100% Zulu man' as he claims, he would have known that this was his child."

There was a picture of Zuma at Kuzwayo's father’s house, holding her just after she was born.

"President Jacob Zuma should choose whether what he committed was rape, or whether it was incest. He can choose which of the crimes he feels comfortable with."

She said Zuma, like Trujillo, won support by playing the victim after the fact.

IEC protest 'was random'

Dlakavu, who is member of a grassroots black feminist movement called Manyano, and three of her friends, protested at the IEC’s results centre in Pretoria on August 6, while Zuma was delivering a speech.

They did not say anything, but stood in front of the podium, facing the audience, and held up pieces of cardboard with the words "Khanga", "Remember Khwezi", "10 yrs later" and "I am 1 in 3". Zuma’s bodyguards bundled them out of the hall.

jacob zuma,remember khwezi,iec,elections,protest
The four women protesting in front of Zuma (File, AP

Dlakavu told News24 after the breakfast that their protest had been "completely random".

"We decided two weeks before that it was something we wanted to do."

When asked about the response the protest had received, and how it had catapulted the subject of rape back into the public spotlight, she said her feelings were mixed.

They had received positive messages of support from the general public. She lamented the ANC’s reaction. Its youth and women’s leagues had openly criticised them and said opposition parties were behind the protest.

Read more on:    fezekile kuzwayo  |  jacob zuma  |  16 days of activism  |  gender rights

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