Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Zuma judged not guilty

A south African judge yesterday acquitted former Deputy president Jacob Zuma on charges he raped an HIV-positive family friend, keeping alive the political hopes of a man until recently seen as the country's next president.
Zuma's rape trial has fanned tensions in the ruling African National Congress, where he remains a widely popular figure and was until recently seen as the frontrunner to succeed President Thabo Mbeki in 2009.
Justice van der Merwe, who under South Africa's non-jury trial system decided the case, said the state had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zuma had intended rape, and questioned the credibility of the complainant.
"It would be foolish for any man with a police guard at hand and his daughter not far away to surprise a sleeping woman and to start raping her without knowing whether she would shout the roof off," he said.
Zuma, an ethnic Zulu, was hit with the rape charge following a separate graft scandal last year which prompted Mbeki to sack him as the country's second-highest official.
Political analysts said the rape case had done serious political damage to Zuma, particularly because he conceded that he had unprotected sex with the woman despite knowing that she was infected with HIV.

No comments: