Author of ‘Khwezi’ Redi Tlhabi has defended herself against ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize’s allegations that he was never contacted to give his side of the story after being accused of having tried to manipulate Fezekile ‘Khwezi’ Kuzwayo into dropping rape charges against President Jacob Zuma.
The book’s version of events has also been corroborated by former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor.
An excerpt in Khwezi’s book details how Mkhize, who was KwaZulu-Natal finance MEC at the time of the trial, let her down.
Mkhize reportedly sent Khwezi a letter shortly after she laid the rape charge against the president and proceeded to “talk about the case and the pros and cons of going on with the case”, Kuzwayo is quoted as saying.
“Initially, he seemed to be objective and just talking and helpful, and then, towards the end of the conversation, he clearly said that he was advising that I should drop the charges, and when we finished talking, it was clear that I said to him that I was not dropping the charges.”
But Mkhize has dismissed the version of events in a statement, saying when the president called him in 2005, he implied that “there was a degree of an intimate relationship that had built up over a period between them”.
Though the president told him at the time that he had made a “mistake”, Mkhize said he did not think his “mistake” was having allegedly raped Khwezi, but that he got into a relationship with a woman both ANC leaders regarded as a daughter.
He said the relationship he had with the Kuzwayo family and Zuma made him decide to engage with Fezeka’s mother.
“The main reason for this engagement was for me to share what I had been told by President Zuma, find out what she understood to be the issue and whether she knew if President Zuma and Fezeka had established an intimate relationship.
“At that meeting, she also expressed her surprise, as she had been told that Fezeka had laid a rape charge against President Zuma. As we continued to engage on this matter, it became apparent that both Sis Beauty and I were not sure of the exact version and turn of events. We were both also unaware of the alleged relationship that had developed between President Zuma and Fezeka.
“Sis Beauty was visibly distressed and asked me what I thought could be done to deal with this matter. My advice was that we needed to know Fezeka’s version of events. As a mother, she needed to sit down with Fezeka to fully understand what had really happened. If President Zuma’s version was confirmed by Fezeka, this matter could be dealt with in the culturally acceptable way.
“However, if Fezeka insisted that this was rape then we could not proceed with the inhlawulo, as this matter would have to be dealt with through a legal process,” he said.
He complained that Tlhabi, who in the book alleges he tried to hush up the matter, had ever tried to contact him for his version of what had happened.
Responding to a Twitter follower on Monday, Tlhabi stood her ground, and said she had tried to contact the ANC treasurer-general. Tlhabi said she had proof of WhatsApp messages sent to Mkhize to back up her story.
It “always helps to back up text WhatsApp messages … those two blue lines … priceless”, she said.
Former ANC MP Vytjie also shared the same version of events in Tlhabi’s book, saying Mkhize had used his medicine degree to his advantage. In a video shared by News24, Mentor provided what she said were the correct details around the rape case as her reason why she said Mkhize would not make a good president.
“Around the Khwezi issue, in fact, I’ll give you two things; around the Khwezi issue, he was the pointsman for the president. He already immediately took a side, and he is a doctor, he’s a medical doctor. When you train for medicine, you do psychology and all that, but also, six years of studying, that time it was seven years, it trains you to be able to evaluate things.
“He was negotiating for him firstly that the matter should not go to court, he saw it as a traditional thing; now what kind of a president will that be?” she said.
Taking to Facebook recently, she wrote: “The reason my respect for Zweli Mkhize got dented was precisely because he chose to be a negotiator for Zuma in the Khwezi painful debacle. In my view he had violated his sacred oath by doing so. From that moment onwards I could no longer trust him, and it was for that same reason.”
Responding to Mkhize’s statement, former Gauteng premier and Cope co-founder Mbhazima Shilowa said Mkhize had missed the point in the whole debacle. He defended Tlhabi, saying what she wrote in her book was what was said in court, questioning why he had kept quiet then.
“Mkhize’s role in the Khwezi matter is well documented! It wasn’t ruled inadmissible or hearsay,” Shilowa said.