Pretoria - The Umkhonto we Sizwe Veterans Association (MKMVA) is ready to apologise to former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils for statements suggesting that he had instigated the rape charges against President Jacob Zuma.
“It believes that the comments relating to the rape allegations were improper and should not have been made. In this regard it will withdraw the entire statement without reservations. If it is desired by the plaintiff that this should be done publicly, it will seriously be considered by the MKMVA," its secretary Tshidiso Paka said.
He tendered to make this apology in a statement handed to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on Monday, during an application to be added as a party in the R1 million defamation claim instituted by Kasrils against Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe, who is also the national chairperson of the MKMVA.
Paka said it was vital for the organisation to be part of the proceedings as Maphatsoe made his comments regarding Kasrils in 2014 on behalf of the MKMVA, in his capacity as chairperson.
Kasrils is claiming damages following statements made which included that he was “an enemy of the revolution” and a sell-out.
Paka said it must be borne in mind that these statements were made before the 2014 national elections and during a time when Kasrils had asked the public not to vote. “Given that members of the MKMVA laid down their lives to secure the right to vote, it was considered important for the organisation to express a view on the matter,” Paka said.
According to him, it felt that Kasrils had turned his back on the ideals of the struggle and that the MKMVA felt at the time that it had to speak out.
Although the MKMVA offered to now apologise to Kasrils, Paka said the statement linking Kasrils to Khwezi laying a charge of rape was reasonable at the time.
“The evidence led during the rape trial of President Zuma in 2005 established that the plaintiff (Kasrils) had a telephonic discussion with the complainant on the night before she reported the rape to the police. It appears that it was after this discussion that the rape allegations were made to the police. It was the case of President Zuma that there had been a political conspiracy against him, leading to the charges of rape being laid against him,” Paka stated.
He said the organisation was, however, prepared to “apologise to Uncle Ronnie” and to the women of South Africa, if it had been perceived as being insensitive towards women.
Kasrils on Monday told the media he had asked Maphatsoe two years ago to publicly apologise and to retract his statements but he had refused.
Kasrils said what made this case so sad was that “the smear campaign” against him came from the liberation party, which he had served for most of his adult life.
Regarding Khwezi, he said he and Zuma got to know her when she was seven and her parents gave them shelter while underground in Swaziland. He met her again only once years later via a friend when she was brought to his office to greet him, months before the rape allegations. “That was absolutely the last time I saw her.
“She phoned me on November 4, 2005. I will never forget it in my life. She said: ‘Uncle Ronnie, Jacob Zuma has raped me.’ …She was on her way to the police station to lay a charge. I had absolutely nothing to do with it.”