Read Khwezi’s story and weep

Khwezi: The story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo by Redi Tlhabi

Jonathan Ball Publishers

242 pages

R175 from takealot.com

...

If you enjoy a peaceful, unchallenging read, this is not the book for you – it will make your blood boil.

What you will get is a fascinating insight into President Jacob Zuma’s rape trial in 2006, before he became the country’s first citizen in May 2009.

Although much of the book’s information is in the public domain, and was drawn from transcripts of the trial, it is well worth reading with fresh eyes 11 years later.

If you didn’t believe her then, with hindsight, Fezekile Kuzwayo’s story is eminently believable now.

Journalist Redi Tlhabi based her account on extensive interviews with Kuzwayo and her friends, and includes excerpts from the diary Kuzwayo wrote when she was in a safe house during the trial.

The book includes details about her father, Judson Kuzwayo, with whom Zuma worked closely in the same Umkhonto weSizwe unit.

He was killed in a car accident in Harare, Zimbabwe, when Kuzwayo was 10 years old.

The diaries provide a fascinating insight into the psychological state of the woman who took the pseudonym Khwezi and had the nation’s eyes on her because she was determined to fight for herself; a woman who was vilified and pilloried, and treated in a way no sane nation would treat its most vulnerable.

The book details her childhood in exile and her second exile after she and her mother were forced to flee for their lives in fear of Zuma’s supporters.

Tlhabi tells the stories of women who were abused in ANC camps and exile communities during the struggle, women for whom there was no justice because the struggle the men were involved in superseded their own fight for bodily integrity and equal rights.

This is a fascinating window into the years Zuma rose to power and, later, to infamy.

Read it and weep.

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