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Reaction To The "Not Guilty" Verdict In The Rape Trial Of South Africa's Former Deputy President Jacob Zuma

In the aftermath of the “not guilty” verdict in the rape trial of former South African deputy president Jacob Zuma, Voice of America reporter Cole Mallard interviewed the director of “People Opposing Women Abuse,” Delphine Sarumaga. She said she was “not 100% surprised by it,” but she did voice concern about particular aspects of the case that the judge took into consideration, such as assuming that rape victims make false claims, and, as in this case, have mental problems. Sarumaga said the defense accused the woman of wearing inappropriate dress, a “Kanga,” a type of wraparound attire that the defense said suggested enticement. Sarumaga said the judge used the verdict as an opportunity to express his conservative thinking and make statements that were not relevant. For example, the judge said it was inappropriate for Zuma to have sex with this much younger 31-year-old woman, not to mention the issue of infidelity. Sarumaga says the judge, in effect, called Zuma a “naughty boy” because he didn’t control his sexual desires. On a more practical note, he also addressed what he saw as Zuma’s cavalier attitude about having sex with an HIV-positive woman. She says the outcome of this trial will be a “wait and see” attitude in women when it comes to reporting being raped, because they feel they’ll be hurt in the process: “It’s difficult to report rape to begin with, and a case like this that has been so public with so many issues that have affected [the victim’s] ability to go to court and seek justice in a peaceful manner, means that there is going to be worse reporting rates. As it stands now, only one case in nine gets reported.”