On Sunday, September 17 2017, City Press published a story headlined: “How Zweli ‘misled’ Khwezi”.
The story is littered with a number of very serious but false and unverified allegations against me personally and against members of the police unit that had been assigned to protect Fezekile Kuzwayo immediately after it became necessary to accord her police protection after she had laid a charge of rape against Jacob Zuma.
City Press claims to have based its story on a book written by Redi Tlhabi, who in turn claims to have composed her storyline from what she claims to have been extensive interviews that she claims to have held with the late Fezekile Kuzwayo, as well as from entries allegedly contained in the diary that Kuzwayo kept.
Albeit in different tones, both of them claim that we had surreptitiously made a compilation of compromising pictures of Kuzwayo that were meant to portray her as a “loose woman”, yet no such a link was ever drawn during the rape trial of Zuma.
Their stories are skillfully packaged to create the false impression that together with the officers who had been assigned to protect Kuzwayo, we had somehow allowed ourselves to clandestinely and illegally collaborated with Zuma, whom Kuzwayo had laid a charge of rape against, allegedly working in concert with the defence efforts of Zuma, in the process set out to abuse state resources and our commission ostensibly to set up Kuzwayo to flounder during her testimony later in the trial.
These allegations are liberally bandied without providing any reference whatsoever on how this was accomplished.
For the record, I vehemently deny these malicious accusations with the contempt they deserve and can only surmise that they were made and published in order to tarnish my reputation.
Strangely, both Tlhabi and Nicki Gules of City Press did not bother to seek my version as they were required to do but went ahead to write a story that derived from unverified versions that were manifestly disparaging to my image, without ever presenting me with an opportunity to respond and did so determinately reckless as to the consequences of their actions.
Ordinarily, I try to refrain from making public pronouncements about assignments that I may have had insight into by virtue of the position that I held in government but given the fact that a book that contains serious and contentious unverified allegations that are indeed attributed to Kuzwayo herself has now been published without providing us with an opportunity to respond, and in view of the publication of the extracts of the book by city press, also without providing us with an opportunity to respond.
It has now become important to comment as follows:
1. Kuzwayo was from the onset and throughout, protected by the tactical intelligence and special operations unit of Crime Intelligence Division.
This unit was at the time, a highly trained unit that comprised a cross section of skills, including the protection and transportation of high-value clients.
Although the unit was under the immediate command of a (director/brigadier) at the time, it fell under my overall command.
2. The unsubstantiated insinuation that Kuzwayo’s protection team and myself had been intent or worked together with the defence team of Zuma is wholly untrue and could not possibly have been true.
The truth is that all members who were assigned to protect Kuzwayo and her mother at various intervals actually believed in her version and were determined to ensure that she was fully protected and free to exercise her rights as a complainant!
I also believed in her version and was equally determined to ensure that her rights were protected.
3. During the period that Kuzwayo was in the care of the police, her protectors would have made pocket book entries and filed periodical incidence reports, as procedure would have demanded from them.
None of this material ended up in the hands of Zuma’s defence team.
4. Kuzwayo was very artistic. In fact she had compiled a number of poems that she routinely and proudly recited to the audience of her protectors.
I am aware that at various stages, she had requested that she be video-taped as she was rendering some of these performances.
None of this material ended up in the hands of Zuma’s defence team either.
5. In the entire period that Kuzwayo was under the care of the police, I deliberately avoided to meet her alone.
This was partly because I had earlier on presided over a complaint by three of her male protectors whom I had to latter remove from her detail after they had formally complained and expressed discomfort at what they referred to at the time as “her over playfulness” towards them.
6. I have only met Kuzwayo in the presence of other people, most times in the presence of her mother or in the presence of eight or so bodyguards that were forever in her presence.
I would never ever have jokingly or seriously made comments of a sexual nature or similar overtures to a vulnerable woman who was in my care and I categorically deny that I have ever asked her to sit on my lap or made similar overtures towards her.
7. I remain stunned with disbelief and I am curiously baffled how such a headstrong woman of the stature of Kuzwayo would have explained why she did not report such an alleged attack to any of the multitudes of people in positions of authority that she had access to.
I find it hard to believe that the courageous and confident woman that Ms. Fezekile Kuzwayo was would have allowed something like that to go unchallenged!
8. I have spoken to more than a dozen officers that had been assigned to protect Kuzwayo, some of whom had been hounded out of the police for precisely the work they did in relation to her protection.
All of them are shocked by these malicious fabrications, which is based on nothing more than untested hearsay.
In the circumstances, we are now exploring what legal recourse is available to us against Tlhabi and her publishers.
Mphego is former head of Crime Intelligence