"People Broke Into My House And Raped My Wife," Says The President Of South Africa

The president of South Africa has described how his wife was raped by burglars more than a decade ago as he sought to justify the use of USD23 million public funds to upgrade security at his private home.

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According To The South African President Jacob Zuma's Statement, In The Year 1998, Burglars Broke Into His House And Raped His Wife

A File photo of Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, addressing the United Nations.

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"Those who say I don't need security? it's not like we were dealing with a normal situation. People broke in and raped my wife," Zuma told a media briefing. The incident occurred before he took over as president in 2009, he said, adding the culprits were "arrested, charged, convicted".

The SA President, Who Is Under Fire Over Renovations Worth USD23 Million At His Rural Farmhouse, Said So On Monday In An Attempt To Defend The Taxpayer-Funded Upgrade Ahead Of 2014 Elections

Zuma has named his residence a ‘national key point’ – a status invented by the previous paranoid apartheid government – which means it is entitled to security measures ‘in the interests of the nation’.

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Speaking to reporters two days before the national vote, Mr. Zuma launched a spirited defense against allegations from an anticorruption watchdog that he overlooked gross misspending at his compound of thatched buildings in Nkandla, the remote village where he was born.

Zuma gave a long, testy and unapologetic speech defending the USD23 million of state funds spent on his homestead in Nkandla in the impoverished KwaZulu-Natal province – a political scandal that has done little to dent his confidence of victory in elections on Wednesday.

According To The Guardian, He Said The African NC Had Provided Him With Security Throughout His Career As A Provincial Official, Deputy President And President So There Was Nothing Out Of The Ordinary

South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma, greets supporters of his ruling ANC party during their final election rally in Soweto

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"There were issues that had called for security, particularly in my homestead," he elaborated. "My homestead was burned twice during violence. And secondly my wife, criminals came, raped my wife during the time I was still the MEC [member of the executive council]... [or] probably I had become deputy president."

"So the issue of security at Nkandla has not been a theoretical issue. Further, there was a court case about it. So those who say you need security, it's not because it's just a normal thing. Two serious incidents had happened to my home. One, burning it, not once, twice."

"Second, break in by criminals, raping my wife, they were arrested, charged, convicted. And people who are in government, once Zuma became the president, they had to raise the level of security to that one of a president. I don't think there's anything abnormal about it."

His Critics Seized On The Remarks, Describing Them As Inappropriate In A Country Where Millions Of Women Have No Protection From Sexual Violence

A File photo of South Africans calling upon President Jacob Zuma to tackle the country's rape crisis.

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South Africa has extremely high levels of sexual assault. "The prevalence of rape, and particularly multiple perpetrator rape … is unusually high," according to a 2012 report by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) thinktank. ISS points out that if updated population statistics from 2012 are taken into account, the national rate was actually up by 1.5%. That means that IN 2013, 127 people per 100,000 of the population were sexually assaulted.

The Rape Incident Was Known To Many South African Journalists But Not Made Public Because Of Laws Protecting The Identity Of Rape Victims

However, in 1998, the national broadcaster SABC did report that Zuma's wife was sexually assaulted when a group of men broke into their home before making off with some of the family's belongings.

A Traditional Zulu Polygamist, Zuma Himself Was Tried And Acquitted Of Rape In 2006

South African president Jacob Zuma speaks during an African National Congress (ANC) led alliance send off ceremony at Waterkloof military airbase on December 14, 2013 in Pretoria

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Zuma has four wives, in a country where polygamy is legal and culturally acceptable. He did not say which of the four wives he had at the time was the victim. One has since committed suicide, while he has divorced fellow politician Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, now chairperson of African Union.

Jacob Zuma was cleared of raping an HIV-positive female friend. The 31-year-old woman had accused him of rape after they had unprotected sex at his home in November 2005, but a judge ruled that the encounter was consensual.

His Revelation Just Before An Election Was Condemned As Opportunistic And Cynical In Some Quarters

Natasha Joseph, a journalist at South Africa's City Press newspaper, tweeted: "Rape is a horrific crime - I sincerely hope President Zuma does not use it to justify huge HUGE tax money spend on his home."

William Gumede, a political academic and biographer, said: "We want the president to talk about the high level of violence but this is not the right way. He is saying the right thing for the wrong reason. Only the president gets protection but the ordinary grassroots members and supporters don't. Instead of saying: 'I will fight for the ordinary voter in townships and informal settlements,' he's saying: 'I need protection.' I think it's inappropriate."

Mark Peach, communications director of Agang SA, a party led by struggle stalwart Mamphela Ramphele, said: "What is disturbing is the possibility that Zuma is using rape – a serious problem in this country – to try to generate some sympathy for what is clearly a massive case of maladministration and in some instances, corruption, in his government."

In March A Report By South Africa's Public Protector Found The President Had Unduly Benefited From The Security Upgrades

The report accused him of unethical conduct and told him to repay the costs of a swimming pool, amphitheatre, visitor centre, cattle enclosure and chicken coop at the homestead.

He Is Expected To Win A New Five-Year Term As President On Wednesday Because Many Members Of South Africa's Black Majority See The ANC As The Only Party Committed To Lifting Them Out Of Poverty

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma

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Zuma said Monday that only opposition parties and "very clever people" are concerned about misspending at his private home, not the masses of loyal ANC voters. An Ipsos poll of 500 registered voters on April 23 found that 63.9% planned to vote for the ANC, down slightly from the 65.9% of the vote the party won in the 2009 national elections. Zuma also said on Monday that he thought the party should work toward installing a female president.

"I think this country is ready for a female president," Mr. Zuma said. "The ANC will again give leadership on the matter. Perhaps in a shorter time than you think." If the ANC wins on Wednesday, Zuma's second five-year term would be the last he is allowed to serve under South Africa's constitution. The race to succeed him as ANC leader has started, say party leaders, and several of the top candidates are women.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairwoman of the African Union's executive arm and Mr. Zuma's ex-wife

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The most prominent is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairwoman of the African Union's executive arm and Mr. Zuma's ex-wife. He didn't mention her or any other ANC members vying to succeed him by name on Monday.

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