She stood by her daughter through one of South Africa’s most notorious rape trials, followed her into exile when she was cast out by those sympathetic to the accused, and returned home to fight for justice for other rape survivors.
Beauty Sibongile Kuzwayo, mother to Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo (Khwezi), passed away on Thursday night.
Her death has been confirmed in a statement release by the One in Nine Campaign, an organisation that Fezekile was involved with.
Mam’Beauty, as she was affectionately known, gave birth to Fezekile in 1974 at the Poly Clinic in KwaMashu. They lived there for many years, before the family went into exile in Swaziland, then Zimbabwe, followed by a string of other African countries.
Beauty’s husband, Judson Kuzwayo, joined an Umkhonto we Sizwe unit in the 1960s and was arrested after being ordered to leave South Africa. He was incarcerated on Robben Island, where he reportedly shared a cell with Jacob Zuma. He was released after a decade in jail but continued to build underground links for the ANC until the family moved to Swaziland. He was killed in a car accident in 1985.
The family retained links to the ANC after returning home, and Fezekile viewed former president Jacob Zuma as a father figure.
In 2005, Fezekile accused him of raping her in his Forest Town, Johannesburg, home – at the height of his political fight to lead the ANC. During the trial Fezekile went by the pseudonym “Khwezi”.
Zuma was acquitted of the charges in May 2006.
After the rape trial, that same year, it was decided for security reasons that it would be better for her and her mother to spend time out of the country. The moved to the Netherlands and then Tanzania in 2010. The 1 in 9 campaign was started in Fezekile’s name shortly after her death.
They later returned to South Africa, where Fezekile passed away on 8 October 2016.
“Mam’ Beauty and her daughter fought the system that holds womxn captive by forcing us into silence and exile. She stood by her daughter through the rape trail, the defamation of her character, the insults, the shaming and fought alongside her and the One in Nine campaign for her justice,” the organisation said in a statement.
“Mam’ Beauty will be remembered for her calmness through the storm and her love for daughter through it all.”
News24 had not received comment from Beauty’s family at the time of publication.