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Vavi in R2m blackmail, rape scandal

COSATU General secretary Zwelinzima Vavi . COSATU held a special media Q & A session at the new COSATU head office in Braamfontein to address the media on certain important issues that have been reported on in the media. Picture: Antoine de Ras, 29/05/2013

COSATU General secretary Zwelinzima Vavi . COSATU held a special media Q & A session at the new COSATU head office in Braamfontein to address the media on certain important issues that have been reported on in the media. Picture: Antoine de Ras, 29/05/2013

Published Jul 27, 2013

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Johannesburg - Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on Saturday denied allegations that he had raped a female colleague.

“I categorically and emphatically deny that on 25 January 2013 I went to complainant’s office, 'grabbed' and kissed her, forcefully fondled her private parts and raped her,” Vavi said in response to a formal grievance against him.

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In a press statement, to which his response to the sexual harassment probe was attached, the Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary said he believed the allegations were part of a plot to discredit him or extort money from him.

Police spokesman Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini could not immediately confirm whether any criminal case of rape or extortion had been opened in relation to this matter.

Vavi said in the statement: “All our encounters were encounters between two consenting adults who clearly had feelings for one another.

“...For years now I have been dealing with consistent threats to my life, political assaults and efforts to destroy my contribution to the struggle of the working class and the poor in this country.

“Lately as we all know, these efforts to destroy me have intensified. I am unable not to view this matter in the same light.”

Vavi told eNCA on Thursday that he had received numerous death threats, which hinted that he could be killed in a car “accident” or through poisoning.

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On Saturday Vavi said he was seeking legal advice and that he was “ready and willing to appear before any legitimate body to clear my name”.

In his response to Cosatu's internal disciplinary probe, Vavi named the woman who laid the complaint and said that he had been having an affair with her.

He claimed that the woman was trying to blackmail him with the rape allegation, and that she had demanded R2 million in exchange for her silence on the matter.

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“ On 3 July 2013 I received a letter ... (containing) the complainant’s demand for payment of two million rand. This letter convinced my wife and myself that I was being blackmailed to pay this amount.”

The Vavis' lawyers also viewed this letter as blackmail, he said.

Six days later, the lawyers sent the woman and her husband a letter “informing them that what they were trying to do is blackmail and extortion”.

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Vavi said there was no response to this letter.

“Neither did she go to the police to lay charges.”

Vavi said he believed the woman's complaint was an attempt to extort money from him.

“I can however not exclude the possibilities that political opponents of mine have seized the opportunity in order to gain the maximum advantage over me and my position.” - Sapa

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