Details of President Jacob Zuma's rape trial were resurrected in the defence of one of his staunchest supporters in the Equality Court in Johannesburg on Thursday.

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema was accused of hate speech, discrimination and harassment by the Sonke Gender Justice Network after comments he made in January in reference to the woman who accused Zuma of rape.

Gallery: Julius Malema in court

Zuma was acquitted after a trial in 2006 and the woman subsequently left the country.

In response to a question at an address at the Cape Peninsula Technikon in January, Malema said: "Those who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money. In the morning, that lady requested breakfast and taxi money."

Malema, who left before Thursday's proceedings began, conceded that he made the comments, but denied the charges against him, his lawyer Tumi Mokwena said.

The Sonke Gender Justice Network argues the comments perpetuate rape myths, contribute to under-reporting of rape and can have the effect of perpetuating sexual violence against women. They also believe it trivialises rape.

They are demanding a public apology from Malema at a press conference, a retraction, a promise that he won't do it again, and a damages award of R50 000 to a shelter for abused women.

Mokwena argued that these comments were made in the context of the judgment that acquitted Zuma of a rape complaint by a woman who described herself as a family friend.

"He was commenting in the context of Zuma's rape case," said Mokwena.

He said the judge, in acquitting Zuma, had commented that the woman had not screamed, in spite of Zuma's bodyguard and his daughter being in close proximity in the room at his home, and that she then went to the kitchen for food the next morning.

Mokwena submitted that this was fair comment, based on the judge's summing up of the probabilities that led him to acquit Zuma.

"The judge looked at the probabilities of the case and drew inferences of behaviour and certainly Mr Malema is entitled to do that," he said.

Later Mokwena said: "We find it strange that a rape victim would be there in the morning, spending over an hour after she had been raped."

Malema's remarked constituted fair comment, and "the crux of what Malema said, is actually what the judge said".

He offered for Malema to come to the court to clarify that his comment related specifically to that woman, and not to women in general.

But this was rejected by Mbuyiselo Botha, who lodged the complaint on behalf of the network, saying they wanted an unreserved apology.

The father of three from Sharpeville is a senior programme advisor at the network and oversees training programmes on stopping violence against women and children, teaches about the role of gender violence in spreading HIV and teaches men to appreciate power imbalances in a patriarchal society.

Under cross examination by Mokwena he said he had brought the case in the public interest.

"It says to us that it is always possible to misunderstand women's behaviour when they are faced with a situation of rape.

"That they can only behave in a particular manner and if they don't behave in a particular manner, it sends a certain message, and for us, your honour, that is problematic."

He said the comments send confusing and conflicting messages to men. Commenting on how women should behave regarding sex, and bringing in the money aspect, "goes to the core of power imbalances".

"If money is raised it suggests that women colluded," he continued.

"The president of the youth league commands an enormous following, he is in the public eye and if he says 'I am sorry for the statements I have uttered' we are of the view, your honour, that it will go a long way in changing the perception that women are a fair game."

He said students are the country's future leaders and if they heard his apology, the damage would be lessened. It would show that the president of the youth league believed the women of the country should be respected and honoured. It would also help the network with its work.

Mokwena said the mention of gender in Malema's statement was not discriminatory, because at the time of the trial only a woman could be raped, so he could only refer to a woman. The laws had since changed.

Malema is expected to attend Friday's continuation of proceedings, where sexual violence expert Lisa Vetten will continue with her witness statement. It included research-based observations that some men don't even realise that they have committed a crime when they commit rape. - Sapa