Zuma's son once faced rape charge

By Time of article published Feb 17, 2006

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By Jeremy Gordin, Karyn Maughan and Kashiefa Ajam

The young man at the centre of the drama surrounding the Jacob Zuma trial once faced a similar charge to the one now levelled at his father.

Five years ago, Mziwoxolo Edward Zuma, now 29, was arrested for allegedly raping a 17-year-old woman, a fellow student at the University of Zululand.

But Edward Zuma, the son of Jacob Zuma and Minah Shongwe (the sister of Transvaal Deputy Judge President Jeremiah Shongwe) was never prosecuted.

Having been released on bail and with the case set for trial two months later, the young woman's attorney wrote to the prosecuting authority that she wished to withdraw the charges.

The former deputy president was in Cuba at the time of the alleged incident. In late October 2000 his office issued a statement saying that his son and the girl had discussed the matter and had resolved it amicably.

Zuma's spokesperson Mathula Magubane said the "rape" complainant had willingly withdrawn the charges because she had acted emotionally rather than rationally in "a lovers' tiff".

A few days before Christmas, when Edward Zuma appeared in the Mtunzini magistrate's court, the prosecutor announced that he was withdrawing the charge on instructions from the regional prosecuting authority.

Edward Zuma stepped into the media spotlight this week after the Pretoria News revealed that his mother was the sister of the junior deputy judge president of the Transvaal. It has also been learnt that it was the biological connection between Zuma and Judge Shongwe that had scuppered the possibility of Shongwe hearing Zuma's rape case, as Transvaal Judge President Bernard Ngoepe had suggested he would.

Unbeknown to those attending Zuma's court hearing on Tuesday, during which Judge Shongwe failed to appear as expected and Zuma's case was postponed until March 6, Edward Zuma was quietly running errands for his father right under their noses.

Dressed like an attorney and from time to time pacing the court, Edward lent over and spoke to his father before Zuma Senior entered the dock and while he was speaking to his attorney Michael Hulley.

Leaning over, and speaking earnestly to Zuma, Edward Zuma at one stage touched his father's arm in an apparent effort to get his attention, before rushing out of Court 4E with an envelope.

The rape allegation against Edward Zuma became highly charged three years' later, however, when investigative magazine Noseweek alleged that former Zuma financial adviser Schabir Shaik - now on appeal against his sentence of 15 years for corruption and fraud - had intervened in October 2000 by placing the woman on the payroll of one of his companies, Kobitech Transport Services (KTS).

According to another newspaper report, this version of events was "confirmed" by Sabeer Sheik-Ibrahim, the former MD of KTS.

Sheik-Ibrahim allegedly said payments to the woman had been a topic of discussion at Shaik's offices: "A lot of the people in the office used to discuss this. She used to come about once a month to collect her money."

Sheik-Ibrahim said he had heard the story about the rape allegation, but felt it was none of his business, until he found out that some of the payments to the young woman were being made out of KTS.

"Her name was in the financials," Sheik-Ibrahim reportedly said. "It seems she had been receiving about R7 000 a month for about six months. I questioned the group financial director about it. He immediately removed the payments and said KTS would be refunded."

Last night Shaik said this version had been demonstrated by him to be utter nonsense. He said he had shown Noseweek editor Martin Welz and another journalists the books of the company and they had been satisfied.

But Welz said on Thursday night: "It's absolutely not true. I did not get to see the books, despite Shaik having invited me to. I flew from Cape Town to his Durban offices especially to examine the books. But despite being in telephonic contact with Shaik, and him giving me directions to his offices minutes before I got there, his secretary told me when I arrived that he was in Johannesburg.

"I was told the accountant would show me the books, but he said he knew nothing about the matter, because for the six months the rape complainant was meant to have been paid by the company, he had been on leave."

Shaik added that Sheik-Ibrahim, who now lives in Austria, had been responsible for a number of damaging but untrue claims about himself and his companies. Sheik-Ibrahim left KTS in January 2003 after a dispute with Shaik. He denied having being dismissed by Shaik.

In 2003 KwaZulu-Natal director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi confirmed to the Mail & Guardian that she was reviewing the investigation into the alleged rape in the light of the claims first published by noseweek. She said she had received a report from the prosecutor and was waiting for the police docket.

- By late on Thursday night Batohi had not responded to requests to explain whether she had reviewed the investigation and, if so, what had become of her review.

Neither Edward Zuma nor his father was prepared to comment.

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