Motshekga: Vavi accuser must go to police

The ANC Women's League says the rape claim needed to be dealt with in court, not internally.

Angie Motshekga, head of the ANC Women's League, says the rape claim against Zwelinzima Vavi needed to be dealt with in court, not internally. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - The ANC Women's League says the outcome of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)'s internal hearing into rape claims against its General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi are not satisfactory.

President of the league Angie Motshekga, who is also the Basic Education Minister, says the case should be taken to court and given due process.

She says the woman who made the allegations against Vavi before withdrawing them during the hearing on Monday should have taken her claim to the police.

The league issued a statement on Monday after the allegations were withdrawn saying they noted the development with "utmost concern and extreme disappointment".

They said they were worried about the jurisdiction of the union itself in handling such a serious claim.

"Cosatu might not be the most appropriate platform to properly determine and give due consideration and credence to all the factors in an allegation of rape."

They added, "It was our view that Cosatu could not offer the comprehensive protection, support and assistance to the complainant as it would be the case within the legal system."

The league found it "worrying and disconcerting" that the woman withdrew her complaint so quickly after going through the "tremendous trouble" of making the allegation.

Speaking to 567 CapeTalk/Talk Radio 702's Stephen Grootes on Tuesday to elaborate on the league's position, Motshekga said rape was a legal issue and needed to be dealt with in court.

She said the league would be meeting with Cosatu's Gender Desk to "get clarity as to how they are going to proceed on this matter."

She said it was important to find out the circumstances of the woman's sudden decision to drop the claim after she "had the guts to raise the alarm", asking, "Was she lying, and why would she lie with something so serious?"

She added, "It's good that Vavi has apologised, but I think to prevent that in the future, it has to be dealt with - it shouldn't just end up with him having apologised and that's the end of the story."

Motshekga insisted that the league was not playing politics or trying to oust Vavi, who has been a vocal opponent of President Jacob Zuma.

"Far from it. It's been a very difficult situation - we don't want to prejudge the situation. We don't want to find Vavi guilty or find the woman guilty of anything." That task, she added, was up to the court.

"We really don't want to get into the politics of who supports who and where this comes from. Our main issue is just the concept of rape."

She said the reason the case needed to be dealt with in the legal system was because the failure to do so could lead to rape claims being seen less seriously.

"If indeed this woman has been raped, she must go to court so that we can deal with the issues because the consequences are huge; that next time a woman screams rape, it will just be treated quite lightly."

Asked about the similarities between the claim against Vavi and the rape trial faced by Jacob Zuma in 2006, Motshekga said the major difference was that due process was followed in the latter case.

"In that case, what brought comfort to us is that the matter was before the court so it would get due process, so even now, we're not going to prejudge who is right or wrong. The only thing we are saying here is that rape is a serious crime, and anybody who alleges that she's been raped; let her go to court."