Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo popularly known as Khwezi has died. Many South Africans have paid tribute to her.
News of her death on Saturday was revealed by her family on Sunday. The family said she had been ill.
In 2005, Khwezi accused President Jacob Zuma, then the deputy president, of raping her. Khwezi was familiar with Zuma, who had spent about 10 years on Robben Island with her father, Judson Kuzwayo, who was an ANC member.
During the trial, Zuma said the sex had been consensual as Khwezi had “asked for it”. He also testified that he had taken a shower after having sex with her. His comments lead to satirical cartoons on the then potential president’s views on the prevention of HIV/Aids. Zuma was acquitted in May 2006.
Khwezi left South Africa for the Netherlands where she was granted a five-year political asylum with her mother in 2007. In 1990, she had been diagnosed with HIV and then became an Aids activist.
In her application, Khwezi had said she no longer felt safe in South Africa and was being threatened by Zuma supporters.
Soon after settling in the Netherlands, Khwezi, dressed in a khanga, the sarong-type garment she had been wearing when Zuma had sex with her, performed a poem on the eve of the bi-annual Afrovibes Festival, in which she responded for the first time to the court’s verdict.
In it she referred to a man who called himself “my daddy’s best friend” and who shared a cell with him on Robben Island for 10 years.
“He said I wanted it; That my khanga said it; That with it I lured him to my bed; That with it I want you is what I said; But what about the NO I uttered with my mouth; Not once but twice,” read the poem. “My world is a world where sex is pleasurable not painful.”
It’s unclear when she returned to South Africa, but in 2012, Azapo launched a campaign to bring her home, saying it did not understand why she should be in exile.
On Sunday, the One in Nine Campaign described her as a feminist, an activist, teacher, sister, friend and colleague who inspired people close to her and women in general. “We continue to believe her and we will continue to fight for justice for Fezeka and all survivors.”
The DA and ACDP said on Sunday that it was a pity that she had died before seeing justice.