Accuser insulted as Zuma hailed at court

Published Feb 14, 2006

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While Jacob Zuma was being hailed as a king who could do no wrong by thousands outside the Johannesburg High Court, his alleged victim and her supporters were insulted and abused by the crowd.

The complainant, a 31-year-old HIV-positive Aids activist who may not be named, has been in hiding for three months, for fear of intimidation.

Shortly after the rape charge was brought against Zuma, the home of the victim's mother, who lives in KwaMashu, north of Durban, was burgled.

On Monday the complainant was taken to court at 7am to escape abuse from a hostile crowd.

She had come to court to accuse the former deputy president of raping her at his Forest Town, Johannesburg, home in November.

She knew Zuma had denied the charges and that she would face a gruelling ordeal as his defence team tried to discredit her.

She waited in a secret room in the court building as the defence team of her alleged rapist succeeded in forcing Judge President Bernard Ngoepe to recuse himself from the case.

Then she heard that Mr Justice Ngoepe had stepped down.

Hope has faded in the alleged victim's camp.

On Monday her close friend, Nomonde Mooitze, who had grown up with the woman in exile, was harassed by a hostile crowd of Zuma supporters.

As she tried to leave, people in the crowd identified her as a close friend of the complainant, and shouted and swore at her.

Shaking and with tears in her eyes, Mooitze tried to get back into the court building.

After police intervened, Mooitze agreed to wait until the crowd outside had dispersed.

In the meantime, she told of her friendship with the victim, saying they were "sisters and comrades".

"Our family would have liked to have seen the trial actually start when it was supposed to. To us it feels like justice has been delayed. And justice delayed is justice denied," Mooitze said.

Earlier in the day, the crowd turned ugly when they mistook a woman with a yellow scarf for the complainant.

They pelted her with stones and yelled at her.

The woman had to flee into the court.

On Monday, in a bombshell decision, the judge president opted to recuse himself from the trial after Durban advocate Kemp J Kemp, for Zuma, said his client feared the judge president had already formed a negative opinion about Zuma's credibility.

This arose, Kemp said, as a result of Judge Ngoepe having granted warrants to the Scorpions last August for search and seizure operations at the premises of Zuma attorneys in Johannesburg and Durban, and for a search of the premises of French arms dealer Thint, in Pretoria, in connection with Zuma's corruption trial.

Judge Ngoepe rejected this argument, saying the two trials were unrelated.

But, Judge Ngoepe said, he believed Zuma would continue to "hold his fears despite all my explanations" and he had therefore decided to recuse himself.

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