Zuma stands his ground on shower comment

Published May 10, 2006


Jacob Zuma has vehemently defended his decision to shower after having sex with his HIV-positive rape accuser, saying he had done so "because I knew the type of person I was sleeping with".

Attending a press conference hosted by Radio 702 on Tuesday, he reacted with visible irritation as an e.tv journalist grilled him about his evidence that he had taken the shower to minimise his risk of contracting HIV.

"But if you've been in the kitchen, my dear, peeling onions, you wash your hands, not so? What was funny about washing my hands after doing something? What's the problem?" he asked.

The reporter responded: "But Mr Zuma, Aids is a big problem in this country and saying things like taking a shower..."

Zuma retorted: "And hygiene is a big problem in this country. Clean yourself."

Zuma told the journalist that widely published reports about his evidence regarding the shower appeared to be "part of your profession's selective reporting".

"Firstly, I'm not certain how and why the shower thing was singled out," said Zuma, adding that he had made the contentious shower comment during cross-examination by state advocate Charin de Beer.

"I did not just voluntarily say I believe a shower takes it (HIV) away. She asked me why did I need to go and have a shower and I said as an additional measure to me to clean myself, because I knew the type of person I was sleeping with. That's an honest answer I gave.

"I didn't say, as it has been reported, that showering is a cure for Aids."

Zuma stressed that his decision to have the shower was "part of the additional things I had to do, because I knew that I'd done something I was not supposed to do".

The e.tv reporter insisted: "So do you advise South Africans to take showers as an additional means to protect themselves (from HIV)?"

Zuma answered: "If they don't take a shower after having sex for many days, they'll be wrong."

Confronted by suggestions that some of the evidence he had given in his rape case trial had raised questions about his credibility as a leader, Zuma responded: "I'm not an angel, I live in this world. I think the court is a different place.

"In court, you cannot say I'm going to be diplomatic. In court, you take an oath, you must tell the truth, no matter what the truth is."

Zuma also revealed that he felt "very proud" of his 23-year-old daughter, Duduzile, whose testimony about the events on the night of the alleged rape helped to prove that her father's accuser was a liar.

He refused to be drawn on how he felt about the trauma his daughter - whose 44-year-old mother Kate died tragically nearly six years ago - had been forced to endure to defend him.

"My daughter had no alternative... she was the only person in the house and I think her evidence was very crucial to determine what happened. I'm very proud of her because she told the truth as she saw it."

Despite Judge Willem van der Merwe's criticism of his decision to have unprotected sex as "inexcusable", Zuma said he did not have a problem with the comments. He added that the judge had been "fair" throughout the trial and had "made me feel confident in the justice system".

Asked about his feelings towards the complainant - who Zuma conceded it had been a "mistake" to sleep with - he said he had no problem with her. He would also have no problem with contacting her, but was worried about how such contact would be perceived.

Related Topics: