Jacob Zuma verdict delivered – not guilty!

The Court has handed down its judgment in one of the South Africa’s most politically and socially controversial trials:

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.

Eventually the trial and the man accused of rape will become part of the socio-political wallpaper and the real question we will be asking in years to come is whether this very visible example of a lack of respect for women and for the HIV/AIDS pandemic (not to mention the irresponsibility of such a public figure) will make a difference in our public debate on gender and HIV/AIDS issues for the better, for worse or at all?

(via Jacobson Attorneys)

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