Judge van der Merwe has delivered his verdict. Former Deputy President Jacob Zuma was acquitted of the allegation of rape today in the Johannesburg High Court. In short Judge van der Merwe found the complainant to be an unreliable witness and inconsistent with the facts the the Judge found to be plausible. The evidence of the policemen involved in the matter were found to be unreliable and even constitutionally inadmissable because the police failed to caution Zuma about his rights. The State’s expert, Dr Friedman, was found to be unreliable.
The Court ultimately found that consensual sex took place in Zuma’s main bedroom.
Judge van der Merwe stated that this case was a good example of where people should not jump to conclusions. When he ruled that the complainant’s previous sexual history could be examined, he was aware of certain affidavits which had been filed and of the possibility of a finding that the allegation of rape was false. He went to great pains that “unfortunate victims of rape will be treated differently because they are different to the complainant” in this case.
The complainant was regarded as a “sick person” who needs “help”. The Judge found that it was quite clear that the complainant experienced past trauma and regarded any form of sexual activity as problematic or even alarming. The trial had a damaging effect on both the complainant and Zuma.
Judge van der Merwe found that Zuma ought not to have had sex with the complainant, a woman so many years younger than him and the daughter of a comrade. It was inexcusable for Zuma to have had unprotected sex with a woman he knew to be HIV-positive. He said he did not even want to comment on the reason for the shower.
Finally, the Judge ruled that the complainant’s “name and photograph may not be published without her and the Director of Public Prosecution’s” written permission.
The full judgment can be downloaded here (the download is apparently over 22MB).