The Kanga and the Kangaroo Court: Reflections on the Rape Trial of Jacob Zuma
This book is inspired by the courage of a young woman, known variously as 'Khwezi' and 'the complainant', who took a principled decision to lay a charge of rape against Jacob Zuma, a man who was to her a father-figure, a family friend, a comrade, and the Deputy President of South Africa.
She took on the fight against considerable odds. Zuma is one of the most popular and powerful political leaders of his time. She could not have known, however, the immense strength she would need to face the prolonged public attacks on her. As the Zuma supporters spat the words 'Burn the Bitch' outside the courtroom, the young woman faced an interrogation inside. Her accusers, and the judge, concurred that having worn a kanga that evening, the complainant had, like so many other women, 'asked for it'.
This book speaks truth to power -- not just male power, but political power, religious and cultural power, imperial and military power. By using the trial of Jacob Zuma as a mirror, the book reveals the hidden yet public forms of violence against women in their homes, marriages, churches and political organisations.
Caught in the crossfire of the nation's political succession battle, the young woman refused to back down. By speaking out, she amplified the muffled screams of many other women who have been raped by those who parade their power in the corridors of parliament, government, corporations, and religious and traditional institutions. Crushed and conquered by the mechanics of power, she was forced by a so-called free country to flee into exile.
We hope that in reading the story of this trial and seeing the particular ways in which women can be subjugated by power, South Africans will have the opportunity to reflect on, and demand better of, the kind of leaders and leadership they deserve.
Author Mmatshilo Motsei