A 'gentle soul' who wants justice done

By Time of article published Feb 15, 2006

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By Penny Sukhraj and Botho Molosankwe

The woman accusing Jacob Zuma of rape may be a "gentle soul" but she's also a strong woman determined to see justice done.

This is according to her close friend Nomonde Mooitze, who grew up with the 31-year-old complainant and is one of her closest friends.

The complainant is being kept under special protection, with only family and a few close friends allowed access to her.

Mooitze, who said she and the complainant were "sisters and comrades", said the complainant was prepared to be vilified for her stance.

She is also prepared to take the witness stand, face an entire courtroom of strangers, and tell the story of what she claims was one of the most horrible experiences of her life.

"But this is the reality of rape. And she is prepared to go through this for as long as it takes," Mooitze said.

However, the complainant became sad when she heard that her supporters were being intimidated.

"It makes her wonder what kind of women we have out there, who are not immune to rape and gender violence. It is very sad to see people react that way.

"It is terrible for her to realise that she grew up in exile with her father, an activist and a soldier. They fought for this democratic process and this country and its people to be free. But it is so sad that she has to be received like this when she comes forward to expose something terrible that has happened to her," Mooitze said.

The family and supporters of the victim have also come to terms with the postponement of the case.

Mooitze said the accused was a citizen of a democratic country with the same rights as anyone else.

"He can feel that he is not ready for the trial to proceed or that his counsel has to still prepare. If justice is going to be served, then let us all be on the same level playing fields," Mooitze said.

On March 6, the complainant must once again face the same ordeal she did in the last two days.

She had to wait in a secured room in the court complex, waiting for her turn to be called to face her alleged rapist.

She heard how Zuma supporters abused and insulted her supporters outside the court building.

Mooitze said: "This is the worst time she's had to deal with... people outside the court who actually believe she is the villain. Yet she is someone living with Aids, has given her time to NGOs, to educate and encourage people exactly like those outside.

"Yet she is being treated with such contempt," Mooitze said.

But the complainant relies on the support of her mother and close friends.

"As a human being she (the complainant) has gone through really tough struggles. She's lived with HIV and had survived tough times.

"She is also a gentle soul but a strong woman. I think of what she goes through and I know I would not have been able to do the same. The thing that motivates her the most is that she wants justice to be done."

Mooitze said it was not surprising that Zuma was being hero-worshipped. "That is to be accepted because he is an ANC leader. And you can't change people's minds out there. But we just want justice to be served," she said.

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