Almost five months after Jennifer Ferguson publicly accused soccer boss Danny Jordaan of sexually assaulting her in a hotel in Port Elizabeth 24 years ago, she has laid a charge of rape against him.
Gauteng police spokesperson Lungelo Dlamini confirmed that a case was opened in Parkview, Johannesburg, this week, but that it had been transferred to Port Elizabeth, where the alleged incident took place.
Since Ferguson came out with her story in a Facebook post in October, Jordaan – who denies the allegation – has insisted that she lay a charge so that a court of law can determine the truth. But Ferguson has repeatedly said she preferred “restorative justice”, where the two of them would meet face-to-face in a mediation process.
Jordaan could not be reached yesterday due to a family bereavement.
In a statement issued yesterday, Ferguson said her “initial intent had been to settle this matter outside of the process of legal prosecution”.
“To this end, I offered Mr Jordaan the opportunity to engage with me in a mediative process outside of formal legal action. This offer sought to be consistent of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission [TRC] process. This TRC process acknowledged the common humanity and need for healing of both the victim and the perpetrator, and a place where one’s mutual humanity can be revived. Despite this offer, he chose not to engage with me and denied the allegation through a media statement … This decision has come out after many months of discussions, legal advice and deep personal consideration,” she said.
She added that she was not seeking “a monetary award, but justice for myself and every victim of abuse in this country in the hope that other survivors will be assisted to disclose and find justice, support and healing”.
Ferguson arrived in South Africa on Monday for a series of performances of #WeToo, a show she wrote after she accused Jordaan of raping her.
In an interview with City Press, Ferguson said she had grappled for years about what to do about what happened to her.
“When I named Danny Jordaan, it was from a place beyond choice. It was, of course, the #MeToo window; it shocked me. I initially didn’t name him, but I gave the details of somebody in a high position,” she said.
But almost six years before that, she was challenged by a doctor friend, in whom she confided about the rape, to name her alleged attacker.
“He said: ‘Jennifer, why haven’t you come out about Danny? Why don’t you name Danny? I am sure there are a lot of other women who have been affected by his behaviour.’
“And I was so affected when he said that to me. I couldn’t respond to the email for about six months. And then I wrote to him and said: ‘I have worked extensively now on forgiving this man and I have to keep working on this. What you’re saying is my lack of disclosure or inability to lay a charge against him has meant that his continued behaviour is causing an unknown amount of pain and agony for other women.’ And that, as an activist, is a terrible thing to hear.”
The #MeToo movement began in October on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment of women, especially in the workplace.
The day of the alleged rape, Ferguson says that she “didn’t even know Danny’s surname”.
“He had just been introduced to me after I finished this performance at a banquet where they were celebrating the coming together of sports councils. I just got a call and was told: ‘Comrade Ferguson, we would really like you to come and sing. It’s going to be important and please come down to Port Elizabeth.’ I said yes.
“I remember the dress I wore, the velvet. I remember textures. I remembered one woman in this whole gathering of predominantly men in this green Springbok blazer,” she said.
Jordaan, she said, was introduced to her after the event, and was in a group with late rugby administrator and Eastern Cape premier Reverend Makhenkesi Stofile. We were happy and there were upcoming elections and there was a lot of relief,” she said.
“What I can remember is that this man reminded me of somebody. So we started chatting and he wasn’t very articulate … They were clearing up the banquet hall, and we were standing next to the lifts going up to my hotel room and he said: ‘Should we have some coffee or something?’
“And I said yes, but I just wanted to change first. And he stepped into the lift with me and said: ‘Well, I’ll come with you.’ And, of course, this was where a warning light should have come on.
“And I got out at the top and he followed me and I got to my room and opened the door. It was awkward. And I go into the bedroom and I close the door. And I start to change. And the door opens. And he was in there. And it was quick and it was violent and he was behind me. He left immediately afterwards.
Distressed and confused, Ferguson immediately took a shower, got dressed and left the hotel. She didn’t go to the police, but instead found herself on the beach.
After the 1994 elections, Ferguson became an MP. So did Jordaan. She spent the next three years in the ANC caucus with him in Parliament, where, unable to make eye contact with her, he would “just disappear” whenever he saw her coming, she said.
The only evidence Ferguson has to back up her allegations are the friends she told about what allegedly happened.
The last time she saw Jordaan was in a lift in Johannesburg around the 2010 World Cup. She was with her husband Anders Nyberg, and Jordaan had visitors with him.
“It was a shock. We greeted each other. The most remarkable thing with Danny that I recall was his inability to hold eye contact.”
Ferguson’s favoured process of restorative justice was dismissed by Jordaan, she said. He would not come to the table and “contemptuously dismissed mediation” with a “wall” of lawyers.