Johannesburg - The ANC said gender-based violence must be regarded as a pandemic and should be confronted; as the party expressed concerns over rape allegations made against its head of presidency Zizi Kodwa.
"It is time to do something about it. It should not only be an issue when it involves the ANC. We have to confront it as a society," acting spokesperson Dakota Legoete said on Sunday.
"As the ANC we remain opposed to gender-based violence no matter who is involved," Legoete said.
Kodwa has been implicated in rape allegation days after spokesperson, Pule Mabe, was cleared of sexual harassment.
"It is a matter of concern. It is unfortunate our leaders are implicated in such things. We take these allegations seriously and it is a matter we will follow and establish the facts," he said.
He made the statement as pressure mounted on the ANC to take action and also to relieve Kodwa of his duties.
The ANC Women's League secretary general Meokgo Matuba said the ANC must engage with the SAPS to find out if there is any case reported against Kodwa and consider suspending him from all ANC duties with immediate effect pending the outcome of the case.
"Rape is a serious problem in South Africa especially now when high numbers of women and children continue to be raped and disenfranchised in the hands of men. We call on law enforcement agencies to act without fear or favour when dealing with such cases. The ANCWL applauds Cde Jessie for advising the complainant to report the matter to the law enforcement agencies to swiftly act on the matter.
"Whilst we take into account the principles of innocent until proven guilty, the ANCWL is resolute in supporting the victims of sexual harassment and rape, and we wish to reiterate this position. The ANC must engage the South African Police Services (SAPS) to find out if there is any case reported against Cde Zizi and consider suspending him from all ANC duties with immediate effect pending the outcome of the case," Matuba said.
"I wish to expose and condemn this feeble yet dangerous attempt at political blackmail and manipulation, orchestrated by elements wishing to turn our politics into a jungle, a place for apartheid-like dirty tricks to silence others," he said.
Kodwa also said he was seeking legal advice on the possible extortion or defamation or any legal remedy
"I will not rest until I find out the identities of those behind this dirty trick ... they obviously learned from their apartheid masters and handlers," he said.
On Saturday, the ANC confirmed receiving a letter of complaint from a woman who made the allegations against Kodwa.
The woman was advised to report the allegations to the law enforcement agencies since it was not a party-related issue.
In the letter addressed to Kodwa, the woman said she was invited by a businessman for drinks to an apartment at Michelangelo in Sandton on April 14, 2018.
"I had been at the apartment before, and nothing or no one seemed like a threat to my safety.
"That evening around midnight I decided to go sleep in one of the bedrooms because I had enough to drink, rather than trying to travel home intoxicated," she wrote.
She alleges that the following morning she met Kodwa and he offered her a drink.
"You insisted that I should have a glass of champagne with you over a chat which I did. I remember you elaborate your admiration for me, you described how classy and well-kept I was the previous night," she said, adding that she had expressed disinterest.
She told how she and her friend felt dizzy and slept.
" A few hours later we wake up to three men applauding that 'it was going down here'. There were used condoms and your blue underwear on the floor. I remember this because you had been wearing the hotel robe loosely."
The woman detailed how she had been dissuaded from opening a criminal case and settlement negotiations allegedly ensued but nothing came of it.
Legoete said rape was a serious act, but they had not made any decisions regarding Kodwa.
"They stand as allegations until we get the facts," he said.
"The ANC can't do anything about it," adding that the incident happened in a private setting.
"The lady needs to take the matter to the criminal justice system."