A group of 4 protesting ladies staged a silent protest with messages during jacob Zuma's speech, they were then approached by security personel after Jacob Zuma left the podium. National IEC results centre in Pretoria for the official results to be announced on Saturday 6th August. Picture: Antoine de Ras, 06/08/2016

Johannesburg - The Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) said it has apologised to President Jacob Zuma for the anti-rape protest by four women during his speech, which was broadcast live on television.

IEC deputy chairman Terry Tselane on Monday tweeted that the commission was “greatly compromised” by the protest.

“Protests are protected by the constitution (without talking about the merits and demerits of the protest) but IEC was greatly compromised.”

In a another tweet, Tselane said: “The protest on Saturday took the IEC by surprise and if we knew we would have handled it differently. We apologised to the President [Jacob Zuma]”.

Four young women, who were manning the EFF desk at the IEC results centre throughout the week, went to the front and held placards that referred to Zuma’s rape trial in 2006.

They held up placards that read “10 years later”, “Remember Khwezi”, “I am one in 3,” and “Khanga” while Zuma delivered his speech. The placards were in apparent reference to Zuma’s rape trial a decade ago.

Zuma was acquitted of raping a then 31-year-old HIV-positive family friend at his home in Johannesburg in 2005.

Facing the audience with their backs to Zuma, the women continued their silent protest for the duration of his short speech. He seemed oblivious to the protest as he spoke.

The women were bundled away by the presidential protection services after Zuma left the podium.

The protest angered the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL), whose president Bathabile Dlamini blamed the IEC and demanded answers about the protest.

One of the women, Simamkele Dlakavu, an EFF member and an anti-rape activist later tweeted “We are all okay. Thank you #RememberKhwezi”.

African News Agency