The HIV-positive woman who accused President Jacob Zuma of rape 10 years ago has died.
Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo – or Khwezi – died on Saturday. News of her death was revealed by her family on Sunday. The family said she had been ill.
The family said a private funeral ceremony will be held, while information about a public memorial service will be announced at a later stage.
Khwezi grew up around Zuma who had spent 10 years on Robben Island with her father.
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.
Kwezi was thrown into the spotlight again in August, when four young women held a silent protest holding up placards that read “10 years later”, “Remember Khwezi”, “I am one in 3,” and “Khanga” during Zuma’s IEC speech.
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.
Her mother, Mama Beauty Kuzwayo, described her as “a loving soul, daughter, sister and an aunt who would forever be held dear in her heart”.