Timeline of the Jacob Zuma rape trial
As the rape trial of former president Jacob Zuma unfolds in the Johannesburg High Court, use this timeline to keep track of the most important events of each day of the trial.
March 6Jacob Zuma pleads not guilty to raping a 31-year-old family friend on November 2 last year at his Johannesburg home.The woman who laid the charge enters the witness box and gives her account of events.
Zuma supporters outside court carry a poster asking: “How much did they pay you, nondindwa [bitch]?”—a reference to the woman.The court is cleared of all but supporters of Zuma, the woman and accredited media so that the woman can testify in camera.
March 7 Cross-examination starts of the woman who laid the charge.A group of mostly female Zuma supporters burns A4-size pictures of the complainant with her first name and surname, while shouting: “Burn this bitch.” The Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust later condemns the action.The court grants an application that the complainant may be questioned on her sexual history. Under Section 227 of the Criminal Procedure Act, a person who has laid a rape charge may not be questioned on his or her sexual history unless special permission is granted by a judge.
March 8 Following the publication of photographs of the complainant’s picture being burned outside the court, Judge Willem van der Merwe reiterates an earlier order that nothing may be published to identity her.Cross-examined on why she did not stop Zuma after penetration, the woman testifies she froze.
“I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t do anything.”The court hears about compensation discussions with her mother after the alleged rape.The granddaughter of Judge Bernard Ngoepe is believed kidnapped in a violent robbery at her parents’ home but found dead at home the next day. Ngoepe recused himself from the Zuma trial after it was argued there could be a perception of bias over his issuing of warrants relating to Zuma’s forthcoming corruption trial. There is not believed to be a link between the trial and the kidnapping.
March 9 Zuma’s lawyer Kemp J Kemp shocks the complainant by producing a draft of her memoirs. The court hears details of how she was raped at the ages of five, 13 and 14. An African National Congress exile court docked six months’ pay off two of the men because she was a child when they had sex with her, not for rape. She denies making other claims of rape.
March 10 Kemp tells the court Zuma will testify they had consensual sex. She denies there was political influence in her laying the charge. The complainant stands down.The complainant’s mother enters the witness box. She tells how her daughter had previously been treated in a mental institution because she was having “hallucinations and nightmares”.She tells the court about her meeting with Zuma after the charge was laid, how he seemed “sombre” and how at a meeting arranged by KwaZulu-Natal finance minister Zweli Mkhize they discussed her daughter’s schooling and a fence she needed around her house.
March 13 Psychologist Merle Friedman testifies that it is normal for a person to freeze during rape and that most women who are raped do this. It is also normal to take long to report a rape, and to start using the word “rape” to discuss the event. Kemp questions whether her diagnosis of dissociative disorder associated with multiple traumas was not really “selective memory”.Dr Mupata Likibi testifies that during an examination of the woman a posterior fourchette tear was found that could have been caused by a nail, not having sex for a long time, lack of lubrication, or passionate or forceful sex. Otherwise, she did not show physical injuries.
March 14 Unisa accountancy lecturer Nosipho “Pinkie” Mgudlwa tells the court she was told of the alleged rape while pressing the woman on why she did not sound alright during a phone call to borrow an outfit.The woman’s best friend, Nomthandazo Kimi Msibi, who works in the office of Minister of Intelligence Ronnie Kasrils, testifies how she declined to ask Kasrils for advice on her friend’s security because of their professional relationship; how her friend stayed over at her place and was “clingy” after the alleged rape; and how she was present when the woman met a private lawyer. Afterwards, her friend told her there was a lot of pressure on her to drop the charge.Commissioner Norman Taioe, head of detective services in Gauteng, testifies that Zuma’s first statement to police denied the rape charge and did not mention that they had consensual sex. It only referred to “sharing in each other’s company privately”.The court hears that Taioe did not include in his record of the investigation Zuma’s taking them to the guest bedroom when asked to point to the alleged crime scene, instead of to his bedroom, where he claims they had consensual sex. Zuma will deny this exchange, his counsel responds.
March 15 Police procedure comes under the spotlight as Taioe is questioned about whether he read Zuma his rights at his Johannesburg home, why he did not include Zuma’s statement about the bedroom, and why he did not fill in the requisite forms when questioning a suspect.The court is presented an analysis of cellphone records before and after the alleged rape between most of the characters mentioned in the trial.Yusuf Dockrat, the lawyer the woman consulted after the alleged rape, denies that he encouraged her to withdraw charges.
March 16 Virologist Professor Desmond Martin testifies on how the HI virus works and the probabilities of contracting the virus through unprotected sex. According to both Zuma and the woman, no condom was used.Investigating officer Superintendent Peter Linda attests to most of the evidence of his senior, Taioe, but adds that he cannot say whether the exchange about the alleged crime scene was a question or a statement.The trial is adjourned to allow the prosecution to mull over all the developments and decide how to proceed.
March 27The rape trial resumes in the Johannesburg High Court.Zuma appoints a legal team to fight his “crucifixion by the media”, accusing former minister Penuell Maduna and former director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka of calling on the press to help destroy him.The court turns down an application by three NGOs to give expert evidence in the trial, including the reasons why rape survivors often do not take the first opportunity to make known the assault and seek help.Outside the court, the One-in-Nine Campaign is ordered to remove posters reading: “Jacob Zuma Sexual Predator??”Zuma’s lawyers begin their application for his discharge on the rape charge.
March 28Zuma’s legal team continues with its attempt at having the rape case against him discharged, arguing that the state has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Zuma raped a 31-year-old HIV-positive family friend at his Johannesburg home.
March 29The court turns down the application to have the rape case discharged, with Judge Van der Merwe finding he cannot agree that evidence led by the state was of such poor quality that it cannot be accepted, and that a finding of mens rea (guilty mind) to rape can be made if no more evidence is led.Asked if his client would take the stand, Zuma’s lawyer Kemp J Kemp would not give a direct answer.
April 3Zuma takes the stand and, choosing to testify in isiZulu, starts by recalling how he came to be involved in the struggle against apartheid.He describes in detail how he had sex with the woman who has accused him of rape, saying he went to her bedroom because she wanted to tell him something. She was wearing only a kanga (wrap) and he changed into his pyjamas.When the woman complained her body was sore and asked for a massage, Zuma fetched baby oil from his bathroom, he testifies. He started massaging her, and she removed her kanga; after the massage he got into bed with her.Neither had a condom, but they had sex, Zuma says. He asked if he could ejaculate inside her, and she did not respond; he went ahead and ejaculated inside her. He then had a shower and returned to find the woman was leaving.
April 3Zuma takes the stand and, choosing to testify in isiZulu, starts by recalling how he came to be involved in the struggle against apartheid.He describes in detail how he had sex with the woman who has accused him of rape, saying he went to her bedroom because she wanted to tell him something. She was wearing only a kanga (wrap) and he changed into his pyjamas.When the woman complained her body was sore and asked for a massage, Zuma fetched baby oil from his bathroom, he testifies. He started massaging her, and she removed her kanga; after the massage he got into bed with her.Neither had a condom, but they had sex, Zuma says. He asked if he could ejaculate inside her, and she did not respond; he went ahead and ejaculated inside her. He then had a shower and returned to find the woman was leaving.Zuma also says he does not think he placed his rape accuser at risk of HIV/Aids or any other sexually transmitted disease by not using a condom and indirectly states that he is HIV-negative.The court hears Zuma was told by a lawyer not to say in a statement to police he had sex with his accuser and that lawyer Michael Hulley had told him instead to write in the statement “after we shared each other’s company privately”.Zuma denies pointing out the guest room as the alleged scene of the crime when police asked him to do so.
April 4Zuma tells the court he is HIV-negative.State prosecutor Charin de Beer examines Zuma’s relationship with his accuser and her father; Zuma denies that he and her father were family friends and says he regards his accuser as “a comrade’s child”.Zuma testifies that he believed his accuser was sending him sexual signals (including wearing a knee-length skirt and no underwear under her kanga, or wrap), but denies that he set her up in his guest room to test them.
April 5Zuma repeats that he believed his accuser wanted to have sexual intercourse with him.He denies the woman’s earlier testimony that he had initially gone to her bedroom, found that she was awake and told her he had visitors to attend to.Zuma says he was surprised that his accuser left his bedroom after they had sex, and that his reason for taking a shower after they had sex was to minimise his chances of contracting HIV from the woman.He testifies that he would have had his cows ready if his accuser had agreed to marry him, but denies having any part in marriage negotiations, saying this was done by the woman’s two “aunts”.In the days immediately following the alleged rape, he did not phone the complainant because he was waiting for her to make contact with him, he testifies.When Zuma apologised to the mother of his accuser, it was only for the effect that her laying the charge was having on her mother, he says.Zuma was playing with fire when he had unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman, says the CEO of loveLife, the national HIV-prevention programme for youth, adding that Zuma’s remark—that after serving on the country’s Aids Council he knew the risk was “minimal” that he would be infected—was hugely damaging.
April 6Zuma denies that he went to the guest room to rape his accuser while she was asleep, and that he raped her regardless her saying ‘no’ and her body language that she was clearly not consenting.Zuma’s daughter, Dudzile Zuma (23), testifies she did not want his accuser to spend the night at Zuma’s Johannesburg house as she had an “uneasy feeling” about the woman and believed she had ulterior motives—“either trying to definitely seduce my father or get money from him”.Dudzile says she intended to keep an eye on the woman, but she fell asleep within 10 minutes and was woken the next morning by the sound of the front door opening. She assumed it was the complainant leaving.
April 7Zambian police were never asked to probe allegations of the rape of Zuma’s accuser when she was a teenager because the ANC in exile sorted out its own problems, the court hears.Zuma’s defence maintains his accuser has a history of making false rape allegations. The state’s trauma psychologist has said that previous rapes contributed to her freezing and not calling for help on the night when she alleges Zuma raped her.
April 10A church pastor testifies how he was expelled from college after a false rape accusation by Zuma’s rape accuser. In her earlier testimony, the woman denied making any rape allegations while studying to be a priest.A second church pastor testifies he was also accused of rape by the woman. He was never questioned by police on the matter and could not say whether the matter was reported to police. A youth councillor also tells the court of another rape allegation that the woman made, which the complainant has also denied.
April 11A man implicated in an attempted rape by Zuma’s accuser tells the court he was surprised she could not remember him and that she had denied ever making the attempted-rape allegation against him.Zuma’s legal team continues to produce witnesses associated with the church in support of its belief that his accuser has a history of making false rape claims. They bring the man she suspected was responsible for her mystery pregnancy while studying to be a pastor to the court; the Katlehong African Methodist Episcopal church pastor says he was shocked and humiliated by the suggestion that he may have raped her. The woman is “not well, she is sick”, he says.
April 12Zuma spends his 64th birthday in court.Yet another theologian testifies, saying he and the accuser had an intimate relationship, but they never had intercourse; one day they were “cuddling” when she “suddenly jumped, becoming angry” after his pants had pulled down (but they did not have sex). They remained friends until one day she “vanished”. He was later informed by the woman’s local pastor that she had told him he raped her.Two more men are brought in to testify about their associations with Zuma’s accuser, but she claims not to know them. One man says she had sex with him and the other says she got into the bath with him.
April 18Clinical psychologist Louise Olivier, who is You magazine’s “Dr Louise” agony aunt, says that in her opinion Zuma’s accuser did not act the way women usually do after they are raped—if a woman could not leave the place where she was raped, she would at least lock the door or barricade herself in; it was also not normal for the woman only to have washed herself the next morning.Olivier concurs with a psychologist brought in by the state, Merle Friedman, that the complainant did not show any signs of depression.She testifies that emotional transference could lead a victim of previous rape to perceive consensual sex as rape afterwards, and that the complainant’s ability to remember the finer details of what Zuma said during the alleged rape was “not compatible” with the theory that she froze and was in a dissociative state.State prosecutor Herman Broodryk produces one of Olivier’s advice columns in which she advised a rape victim that it was “normal” for women to freeze during rape.With the words: “My lord, that is then the case for the defence,” Zuma’s advocate Kemp J Kemp brings a close to the case that has gripped the nation. Closing arguments will be heard on April 26 and 28 with May 2 and 3 set aside should the need arise.
April 26State prosecutor Charin de Beer starts the state’s closing arguments by saying Zuma’s accuser would not have had consensual sex with him without a condom.De Beer also says there is no doubt efforts were made to persuade Zuma’s accuser to drop the charge. KwaZulu-Natal finance minister Zweli Mkhize “tried to broker a settlement”, and this was substantiated by lawyer Yusuf Dockrat, having “pushed” the complainant to drop the charge.She says Zuma also tried to contact the complainant by phone in a “personal attempt by the accused to persuade the complainant to withdraw the charge”.On testimony by forensic psychologist Dr Louise Olivier, for the defence, De Beer says the woman did not examine the complainant.On testimony by trauma specialist Dr Merle Friedman, who was called by the state, De Beer says it was clear Friedman had morals and was experienced. She said Olivier was not able to dispute most of Friedman’s evidence.De Beer also says the absence of any foreplay and a lack of vaginal lubrication prove there was no consent from Zuma’s accuser.De Beer concedes that some of the complainant’s behaviour was “strange”, including that she did not have a shower afterwards, but says this was due to shock.She describes Zuma’s details of the events on November 2 as “recent fabrication” to enhance his claim of consensual sex.She rejects Zuma’s explanation that he went ahead with condom-less sex because, in his Zulu culture, he could be accused of rape for leaving a woman sexually aroused.De Beer casts doubt on Zuma’s HIV status, saying the result showing he was HIV-negative was not submitted as part of court documents.She says the absence of baby oil on the kanga the woman wore to bed also casts doubt on Zuma’s account of a pre-coital massage.Primedia Broadcasting and e.tv are granted permission to broadcast the judgement.
April 28The state completes its closing arguments, asking the Johannesburg High Court to find Zuma guilty. Prosecutor Charin de Beer says Zuma’s version of events should not be considered the truth.De Beer asks the judge to reject the testimony of two men—one who claimed to have been the complainant’s lover when she was younger, and another who claims that she undressed and tried to get into his bath—saying the men, who were flatmates at the time, contradicted each other and the evidence should be rejected.It is clear an apology Zuma made to the complainant’s mother was because he had raped her, De Beer says.Zuma’s lawyer Kemp J Kemp starts giving his closing arguments by saying the belief that the rape charge Jacob Zuma is part of a political conspiracy cannot be dismissed.Kemp questions the way Zuma’s accuser behaved after the alleged rape at Zuma’s home. He asks the judge to believe the defence’s witnesses, saying they were “good witnesses”.
May 2The state has to prove Zuma is HIV-positive and that was why he could allegedly rape an HIV-positive woman, his defence tells the court.Zuma’s lawyer Kemp J Kemp says state prosecutor Charin de Beer had no factual basis to argue that Zuma was HIV-positive and had therefore allegedly raped the woman without using a condom.On Zuma’s testimony that he had a shower immediately after having intercourse with the woman to lessen his chances of contracting HIV, Kemp says this was not unusual behaviour.On police investigations into the alleged rape, Kemp accuses a commissioner of trying to trap Zuma—referring to when Zuma allegedly pointed to the guest room after being asked by Commissioner Norman Taioe to point out the “alleged scene of the crime”.In the closing moments of the case, Kemp repeats that proving mens rea, “a guilty mind”, is a “large problem” in the case.The trial is briefly interrupted by a woman in the public gallery who asks the court for help, saying she has been raped.Judgement is set to start in the Johannesburg High Court at 9am on Monday May 8.