Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Jacob Zuma. File picture: Zwelizwe Ndlovu

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma on Friday responded to deputy Cyril Ramaphosa's statement that he believed the version of the woman who accused the president of rape more than a decade ago, with a terse reminder that he was acquitted by the high court.

"The Presidency has noted the media reports attributed to the Deputy President of the Republic who is quoted as having stated that he believed the version presented by Khwezi in the criminal proceedings between State v JG Zuma when he was interviewed in one of the radio stations," Zuma's office said.
 
"The rape allegations against President Zuma were properly considered by a Judge of the High Court. Having evaluated the totality of the evidence, the court acquitted the President of the rape charges. The Presidency affirms the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the primacy of the courts as the final arbiters in disputes in society."
 
Ramaphosa was questioned about the 2005 case in an interview on Radio 702 on Thursday evening.

Read: Yes, I believe her, Ramaphosa on Khwezi

He said he had to respect the ruling but had sympathy for Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, the president's accuser who became known simply as Khwezi in the media. She died just more than a year ago.

The deputy president said he appreciated how difficult it was for women to lay charges of sexual assault, and when pressed further by his interviewer, added: "Yes, I would believe her."

Zuma admitted to having sex with Kuzwayo, who was HIV-positive, but claimed it was consensual. The case earned him lasting ridicule for telling the court he showered to prevent HIV infection. However, his political career rebounded, with many viewing the charges as having been politically motivated.

Ramaphosa is a strong contender for the presidency of the ANC, which will be decided at an elective conference in two weeks.