In May 2006 Jacob Zuma was found not guilty of the rape of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo – better known as Khwezi – in the Johannesburg High Court. Another nail was driven into the coffin of South Africa’s fight against sexual violence. Vilified by Zuma’s many supporters, Khwezi was forced to flee South Africa and make a life in the shadows, first in Europe and then back on the African continent.
A decade after Zuma’s acquittal, Khwezi died. But not before she had slipped back into South Africa and started work with journalist Redi Tlhabi on a book about her life. About how, as a young girl living in exile in ANC camps, she was raped by the ‘uncles’ who were supposed to protect her. About her great love for her father, Judson Kuzwayo, an ANC activist who died when Khwezi was almost ten. And about how, as a young adult, she was driven once again into exile, suffering not only at the hands of Zuma’s devotees but under the harsh eye of the media.
In sensitive and considered language, Red Tlhabi breathes life into a woman for so long forced to live in hiding. In telling the story of Khwezi, Tlhabi draws attention to the sexual abuse that abounded during the struggle years, abuse that continues to plague women and children in South Africa today.