ZWELINZIMA VAVI: Under pressure to clear his name.

Babalo Ndenze

BELEAGUERED union boss Zwelinzima Vavi will come face to face with his rape accuser when an internal Cosatu hearing into his conduct begins today, an encounter the 26-year-old woman says will be ”difficult”.

The woman, who may not be named for legal and ethical reasons, has slammed Vavi for publicly releasing details of the incident and indirectly revealing her identity.

Vavi is to appear at an internal hearing into a sexual harassment complaint by the Cosatu administrative official.

The woman has not filed a rape complaint with the police, although she says the January sexual encounter “was not consensual”.

Vavi denies the allegation and says he had consensual sex with the woman.

The rape allegations come on the heels of accusations against the Cosatu boss of maladministration, including in the sale of Cosatu’s head office below cost. These accusations are being investigated.

Vavi, whose leadership of Cosatu is being bitterly contested, has made repeated claims about threats against his life.

He has filed a charge of blackmail and extortion against his rape accuser, who he alleges asked to be paid R2 million to make the matter go away.

“It will be difficult,” the woman said from her Johannesburg home yesterday. “At the end of the day I filed a grievance, and I have to see this through.”

She said she had faith in Cosatu’s internal processes and had nothing to hide, as “the

truth, as I said, will come out”. The woman raised concerns about her safety, saying strangers had been coming to her house and invading her family’s privacy.

“I can’t say I’ve been attacked, (but) I’ve being victimised. With people coming to my house, to my doorstep and knocking on my door… All of this I did not want – like him (Vavi) taking all of this to the media and… releasing my identity on a sensitive thing.”

Her husband said the family was being “hounded” after details of the accusations were reported at the weekend.

“Right now, there is an internal probe into this matter, and until the outcome of that, she will decide if she wants to speak to the media.”

Asked why, almost six months after the alleged incident, a police complaint had not been filed, he said: “I cannot comment on that.”

Police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini confirmed yesterday afternoon that Vavi’s accuser had not filed a complaint.

He also confirmed that a case of blackmail and extortion against the woman was being investigated.

Two Cosatu-affiliated unions have come out in support of Vavi, saying he is the victim of an “onslaught” from his detractors.

The Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) was the first affiliate to come out publicly in support of Vavi. Fawu, which supported Vavi when he faced charges of financial impropriety, said it was not surprised at the developments.

“(Fawu) is concerned, yet not entirely surprised, about a new front waged in the onslaught against Zwelinzima Vavi,” its general secretary, Katishi Masemola, said.

He said the allegations had come on the heels of a “failing project trying to link Vavi to administrative impropriety”.

The KwaZulu-Natal structure of Cosatu’s biggest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), also threw its weight behind Vavi.

Numsa’s secretary for KwaZulu-Natal, Mbuso Ngubane, said: “The rape allegation cannot be delinked from the poisonous, malicious and well-calculated political offensive directed towards destroying comrade Vavi’s political integrity and standing”

Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven refused to comment, saying it was an internal matter.