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ILGA Stephane Tchakam, ILGA
anonymous contributorWritten anonymously. (French)


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Women’s rights activists led by the One in Nine Campaign marched outside the South Gauteng High Court Yesterday 11 May 2010, commemorating four years since judgement was passed on the Jacob Zuma rape trial in 2006, also showing solidarity to other rape survivors in South Africa.

“Four years later Zuma is president, Khwezi is in exile - where is the justice” was the message displayed on a banner hung high in Colman Chambers and Kruis street a clear indication of protesters’ anger regarding the judgment of the Zuma trial.

Khwezi Mbandezayo of the One in Nine Campaign explained that the protest was to remember the complainant in the Zuma rape trial of 2006, a woman known only as Kwezi, who went to exile following the acquittal of Zuma on the grounds that he and the complainant had consensual sex.

“We found the judgement very problematic towards rape victims, we are also in solidarity with all rape survivors who continue to be secondary victimised by our criminal justice system”, Mbandezayo said.

According to Rosie Motene board member of People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) “the protest is to say that although it’s been four years as women we are still victimised, with a lot of rape cases not taken to courts, women live in fear. It’s important for women to know their rights and say we won’t stand being raped and abused”

She added, “It is sad that it is only women who are gathered here protesting instead of the men some of whom are the cause of these rapes.”

During the protest a letter by the One in Nine Campaign addressed to Khwezi (The complainant) was read out and it stated “We remember and salute your activist spirit, we are enraged by the injustice that you now live in exile for seeking justice, a right which our country’s constitution guarantees to all. We have not been able to get past the fact that the court and the legal justice put your integrity, your dignity as a rape survivor on trial, just as it continues to do to women rape survivors who demand justice.”


It further stated, “we act today to ensure that the injustice that women who are raped and who seek recourse through the courts, is never accepted, we are sure today as we were on the 8 May 2006 that an acquittal does not mean that the rape didn’t happen or that the accused is innocent and it certainly doesn’t mean that justice has been done.

“We long for a day when women in South Africa will live violence free lives and long for the day you will be able to return assured of your safety and ability to enjoy all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution.”


Meanwhile in South Africa lesbian women are still subjected to corrective rapes and hate crimes in which most cases have not been investigated and recognised by the criminal justice system.


Last year’s report by the international NGO, Action Aid, supported the Human Rights Commission, revealed that “horrific crimes against lesbians were going unrecognised by the state and unpunished by the legal system.”


“A lot of court dockets disappear in cases like these and it is alleged that it costs R250 for a court docket to disappear, too many cases are slipping through the courts and that needs to be questioned”, Motene said.

The National Prosecuting Authority had previously admitted that “While hate crimes especially of a sexual nature are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritised as a specific project.”

Ishtar Lakhani, National Coordinator of the One in Nine Campaign also highlighted that the Zuma judgement was “extremely damaging and violated women seeking justice.”

“This is our way of showing the judges and officers that what they say has a far greater impact to women and survivors of sexual violence”, Lahani added.


According to The One in Nine Campaign, bias, predujice, delays, procedural flaws, inadequate medical and forensic investigations, the states failure to protect survivors combined with the failure to apply minimum sentencing frameworks are some of the pervasive problems with South Africa’s criminal justice system in cases of sexual violence against women.


Only one in nine women who are raped report the cases to the police, of these a fifth go to trial and of these less than 4.7% result in convictions, hence the name of the campaign in One in Nine.


The One in Nine Campaign is a feminist collective of organisations and individuals, working for social justice for women.

In pursuit of this goal the Campaign works with organisations and institutions involved in HIV/AIDS, violence against women, women’s rights, human rights, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activist to ensure issues of sexual rights of all women are put on the national agenda


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