ANC head of presidency Zizi Kodwa has strongly denied an accusation that he raped a woman at a private function in April last year.
Kodwa in a statement on Sunday said the allegations were made in a letter "replete with false accusations" and described it as a "feeble yet dangerous attempt at political blackmail and manipulation".
This after ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte confirmed to journalists on Saturday evening that a rape complaint had been sent in a letter to the office of the secretary general against a high-ranking party member.
News24 chose not to name Kodwa initially until he was given the opportunity to reply to the allegation.
"Today, after days [of] what appears to be the height of a dirty tricks campaign, I wish to expose its details," Kodwa said.
"On February 14, 2019 I was alerted by the Secretary General of the ANC that he had received a letter from a woman claiming [what] I view as the most grotesque attack on me and my reputation.
"In a letter replete with false accusations, I am accused of rape, sexual assault and even drugging two women.
"At the outset, I deny these accusations with the contempt they deserve."
Kodwa said he refuses to "succumb to extortion and blackmail" and would not be silenced through "dirty tricks".
"Most importantly, I refuse to bow down to dirty tricks by cowards operating from their factional dark corners, using women to fight or neutralise me.
"Most tragically, I detest the use of such serious societal maladies like rape, sexual harassment and women abuse to simply achieve narrow factional and political ends. It is an insult to the women of this country and a fight against women abuse."
He further described the accusation as "orchestrated by elements wishing to turn our politics into a jungle, a place for apartheid-like dirty tricks to silence others".
Kodwa said he was currently seeking legal advice with a view to a possible case of extortion or defamation or any other legal remedy available to him.
"I will not rest until I find out the identities of those behind these dirty tricks they obviously learned from their apartheid masters and handlers."
ANC's advice to complainant
On Saturday, Duarte said the party advised the complainant that she needed to go to the criminal justice system with her complaint.
"It's a bit different where there is a difficulty between staff and membership. This is something that in our understanding happened in a private party setting, of course that's the allegation," she stressed.
The ANC therefore could not probe the facts further, with Duarte saying: "That is the work of the criminal justice system".
No further details were made available.
The letter has since been circulated on social media.
Woman details incident at private party
In the letter, the woman, whose surname appears in its contents, describes an ordeal over the weekend of April 14 last year, and its aftermath, as she and a friend tried to reach a settlement with "the perpetrator".
She had been invited for drinks at an apartment by a male friend, who is a well known spokesperson, and had slept there that evening.
The next day, she said she awoke in the apartment and headed to the kitchen, where she encountered Kodwa for the first time. He was very complimentary and said they should chat over a glass of champagne, before exchanging numbers.
She claims to have been sent an "inappropriate text" from Kodwa hours after the chat. She and an unnamed female friend then start feeling dizzy, so they decided to nap.
They woke up feeling "unnaturally aroused", and proceeded to kiss and touch each other inappropriately, "something we've never done".
"I still have a vivid memory of the scene, the images of that moment haunt me and hurt me so deeply. We are horny like possessed animals. I opened the door to Zizi and part of my memory is blank. A few hours later we wake up to three men applauding that 'it was going down here'."
She does not say that Kodwa was one of the three men.
She then says, "There were used condoms and your blue underwear on the floor. I remember this because you had been wearing the hotel robe loosely that morning."
She established with her male friend afterwards that "some individuals" had used Rohypnol.
She then went to a clinic to get results, but her male friend encouraged her to resolve it "with the perpetrator" before going to the police.
"Talks went on, settlements for incurred medical costs and trauma were discussed, but no promise was met for over five months," she said.
She claimed by then it was "suspiciously too late to open a case", and they were "afraid of the public humiliation of if this issue went public, our families, and social implications (sic)."
In order to assist them to move forward, they requested an acknowledgement "of what you’ve done, a sincere apology and a vow that you will never subject any other woman to this."
"Although money will never take back what has happened and the deep scars that have been left, it would perhaps allow us to heal with trauma and stress caused by this through better, by firstly covering our medical bills, secondly allowing us to seek professional help now and any time it might be sought in the future, and lastly also by allowing us to reduce our current challenges and stresses, as we try and deal with this immense pain and burden that has been put on our shoulders since that afternoon (sic)," she concluded.
A criminal complaint has not been laid.
*UPDATE: This story has been updated to include some of the allegations contained in the letter.
- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter