- Represented South Africa at the International Aids Conference in Durban
- Advocate for AIDS prevention in the UK, Holland, South Africa, and Swaziland
- Taught art in Tanzania and South Africa
- Authored poem I am Khanga
Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo better known as Khwezi was born September 17, 1974. Her father was Judson Khuzwayo, Chief Representative of the ANC in Zimbabwe. Fezekile Kuzwayo spent most of her childhood in Durban before her family went into exile in Swaziland. Judson Khuzwayo and Jacob Zuma, Fezekile Kuzwayo’s future alleged rapist, went into hiding together often. They were jailed together at Robben Island. Zuma and the man that encouraged Fezekile Kuzwayo to come forward stayed in the Kuzwayo home during exile. Judson Khuzwayo died in a 1985 car accident.
Fezekile Kuzwayo claims to have been sexually abused by ANC members starting at the age of five. The allegations were never taken to court, but there are rumors of ANC soldiers being docked six months pay due to a rape incident involving Kuzwayo.
Fezekile Kuzwayo was diagnosed with HIV in 1999. She said in court she told Zuma in 2001. She was also an out lesbian. She was a South African representative at the International AIDS Conference in Durban. She was an AIDS advocate in the UK from July 2002 to August 2003
Zuma was a family friend and father figure according to Khuzwayo. Over the years he continued to be active in the ANC and became deputy leader in 2005. Most assumed that Jacob Zuma would succeed Thabo Mbeki as president of South Africa.
According to Kuzwayo’s testimony, she had to stay overnight with Jacob Zuma because she was having a family crisis. She was asleep in the guest bedroom when Zuma entered. Zuma climbed into bed with her and began the act before she woke up. Kuzwayo did not scream or resist because she was in shock. A man that was her uncle took advantage of her while she was asleep.
Kuzwayo first told family friend Ronnie Kasrils about the rape. Kuzwayo called Kasrils cell phone on her way to the police station according to testimony in the later Kasrils defamation trial.
Zuma was formally charged in 2005. He admitted they had sex, but the sex was consensual. Kuzwayo was wearing a Khanga at the time. Zuma interpreted the dress as a sign that Kuzwayo was interested in sex. For those that do not know, a Khanga is a rectangular piece of cloth that is wrapped around a woman’s waist and worn as a dress. The Khanga has several other uses and can be worn as a tunic or be used as a pouch to carry a baby. Some women even wear Khangas to church as the picture below shows. Zuma never said she expressly said she wanted sex, only that she gave several signs of being interested in sex.
Zuma knew at the time of intercourse the woman was HIV positive. He said he showered after sex to reduce the likelihood of contracting HIV. Zuma did not wear a condom. He claims he was ready to marry her. Kuzwayo’s aunts were discussing an acceptable bride price before intercourse took place.
After the rape charge against Zuma had gone public the ANC Women’s League called Kuzwayo a “bitch.” The ANC Youth League and South African Communist Party threatened her life. A mob formed outside the courthouse on her trial date and threw rocks at a woman suspected to be her. The most egregious violation was the burning down of her home. To avoid further harassment and threats on her life, she had to flee to Holland. She left Holland to stay in Tanzania and eventually returned to South Africa in 2011.
The court found the sex to be consensual in 2006. The judge found previous instances of her accusing men of rape. Some of these men accused of rape were clergy. In testimony, she said she never made those charges and that she never met the men. The judge had documents saying she accused the men of rape. The judge concluded Kuzwayo felt guilty after the sex and wanted to clear her name with the accusation of rape. Kuzwayo also was asleep when the assault started. The judge felt it would be illogical to rape a woman if he did not know if she would scream when she woke up. A uniformed officer and his daughter were nearby.
The judge made an order to reveal Kuzwayo’s identity without her consent. She had been known as “Khwezi” to protect her identity.
Aftermath of the Trial
After the trial, Zuma goes on to win the 2008 election and is currently South Africa’s president. The trial ultimately had a positive effect on his political career. His supporters were able to claim that the West and white South Africans conspired to take him out. Zuma is an advocate of land appropriation, black South Africans taking back their land.
Kuzwayo had to go into hiding in Holland. While in Holland she wrote and performed the poem I am Khanga. Aidsfonds, KIT, and Sharenet hired Kuzwayo as a consultant. She left Holland in 2010 to stay in Tanzania. While in Tanzania, she worked as a librarian and drama teacher at a local school. Kuzwayo also volunteered at Nafasi Art Space. She eventually returned to South Africa, in 2011. In South Africa she continued to teach and further her education. Fezekile Kuzwayo died of a blood clot in 2016. Two hundred mourners came to her funeral in Central Methodist Church in Durban.
In 2015,the MK Veterans Association apologized for fueling rumors that the rape accusation had political motives. The ANC Women’s League also issued a statement on Kuzwayo’s death. They said she was a brave woman that told her side of the story. Also, Ronnie Kasrils filed suit against the man that accused him of orchestrating the rape charge. They settled out of court.
What Kuzwayo had right
She lived openly as an HIV-positive lesbian. In a more conservative country, it is important to have LGBT individuals living openly to reduce stigma. Being openly HIV-positive serves the same function.
Fezekile Kuzwayo had every right to stand up for herself. She should be commended for her bravery in standing up to the Deputy President of South Africa. Many hurled insults at threats at her and she stood strong through all of it. She never slanders any of her critics or puts out negative statements about the ANC.
Even after the trial was over, she never stopped helping people. She taught art to children for the next ten years. She became a pillar of the community. The evidence of her altruism was the high attendance at her funeral.
What Kuzwayo had wrong
Where is Kuzwayo on the Spiral
No statement on how Kuzwayo feels about the state of Africa or Africans worldwide could be found.
The action of filing a suit against the Deputy President was a Red Meme action. Bravery begins in the Red Meme. I came to this conclusion by process of elimination.
If she were Blue Meme, she would never go against an ANC leader. Kuzwayo was a life-long ANC supporter. She is ANC royalty through her father.
If she were Orange Meme, she never would have spoken out because Zuma. She knew it could ruin her life. Also, if Zuma told the truth about them getting married, then she would never risk losing a relationship that could make her first lady.
If she were acting in the Green Meme, she never would have done anything to hurt group cohesion. She would have stayed quiet to keep everyone together.
Often in the Spiral Dynamics community, we use Red Meme as a pejorative. It is important that we understand the positive aspects of the Red Meme. In this case, a single stigmatized woman took on the power structure of a country. Her bravery should be commended all over the world.
- Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo on South African History Online http://www.sahistory.org.za
- SA’s Zuma showered to aviod HIV April 5, 2006 BBC
- Khwezi was ‘getting her life together after 10 difficult years’ By J. Wicks October 9, 2016 http://www.news24.com
- Where is Jacob Zuma’s rape accuse?” by N. Mokati May 7, 2016 IOL News
- “The kanga, womanhood and how Zuma’s 2006 rape trial changed the meaning of the fabric” by r. Pather August 10, 2016 Mail and Guardian
- Biographical Profile History of Late Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo on Daily Mail Nigeria
- ” The real Fezekile ‘Khwezi’ Kuzwayo as her family knew her” by A. Khoza http://www.news24.com
- “Khwezi told me Zuma raped her: Kasrils http://www.enca.com/south-africa
- “Kasrils sues after claim he set up Zuma for rape charge” by j. Evans Feburary 22, 2015 https://mg.co.za/
- “South Africa: Kasrils to Give R500k Defamation Money to Khwezi” August 23, 2016 http://allafrica.com
- “zuma found not guilty May 8,2006 https://mg.co.za/
- “Jacob Zuma cleared of rape” May 8 , 2006 https://www.theguardian.com