In South Africa, new developments today in the controversy surrounding former deputy president Jacob Zuma. A woman who last wee denied reports she had been raped by Mr. Zuma is now saying that she indeed was assaulted.
Mr. Zuma, who faces corruption charges and was sacked as deputy president, is still considering a run for the presidency. In Johannesburg, Voice of America reporter Delia Robertson is following the story. She spoke to my colleague Joe De Capua about the woman making the rape allegation.
Reporter Robertson says, “Her name is not generally known. She’s a thirty or thirty-one year old woman who has known Mr. Zuma all her life and apparently views him as a very close family member. (she) has often spent time in his home.” When the allegation first surfaced last week, the woman had denied it, so why is she now confirming it? Ms. Robertson says, “She originally denied it according to a newspaper report that is published today (Monday). She told that newspaper, The Mercury, that she had originally denied it because she was fearful of a backlash. That she was worried that the whole country would be against her. But that she has subsequently received a lot of support. In addition, apparently her mother was originally against her laying the charge, but has subsequently changed her mind and is supporting her daughter.”
The woman making the allegation has not appeared in public. Reporter Robertson says, “It seems that very few people know where she is. She is communicating only using her mobile phone, at least with the media. There has even been speculation that she’s been taken into protective police custody. Although the police have refused to comment on that.” In fact, South African police have not commented on the allegation at all.
Some of Mr. Zuma’s supporters have suggested the allegation could be part of a political smear campaign. While the former deputy president has not commented publicly on the case, his attorney has issued a statement saying Mr. Zuma denies the allegation.