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Defense Grills Zuma Rape Accuser in S. Africa Trial


The woman who has accused former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma of rape, has spent her third day of grueling cross-examination on the witness stand. The defense is grilling the complainant on her sexual history.

For the third consecutive day, Jacob Zuma's rape accuser has had to face relentless questioning on the most intimate details of her sexual history from defense advocate, Kemp J. Kemp. Earlier this week Judge Willem van der Merwe approved the defense application to allow this line of questioning.

The defense is apparently trying to discredit the complainant on several levels. Kemp has suggested that she is a serial rape complainant, that she may have had political motives, and that, as an AIDS-activist, she did not want to admit to having unprotected sex.

The complainant, whom the court has said may not be identified, has testified that she is HIV-positive and that she is a lesbian. She has also testified to three previous rapes, at age five, age 13 and 14.

Women's advocacy organizations have criticized Judge van der Merwe for allowing the defense to question the complainant on events during her childhood.

Meanwhile, there is widespread outrage in the country at the behavior of Zuma supporters who have demonstrated outside the court each day this week. Supporters have burnt photos of the complainant, sung songs in Zulu which insult her, and mobbed a cash truck trying to deliver money to a nearby bank.

These actions have been the subject of severe criticism from the cabinet, parliament and ordinary callers to radio talk shows.

The demonstrations have been organized by the African National Congress Youth League and by an ad-hoc organization called the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust which is raising funds for Zuma's upcoming corruption trial. Both organizations say they oppose such behavior and have blamed it on unnamed agents, whom they say wish to discredit Zuma. The trial resumes Friday.

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