The tragic life of Khwezi relived

Nompumelelo Mayiyane plays the role of Khwezi in the play.
Nompumelelo Mayiyane plays the role of Khwezi in the play.
Image: Sanmari Marais

Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, who was famously known as Khwezi, lived a tragic life.

This was how Kuzwayo's story was summed up during the opening night of Napo Masheane's show Khwezi . Say My Name.

The play is adapted from the book titled Khwezi . The remarkable story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo by Redi Tlhabi.

The opening night saw the South African State Theatre in Pretoria packed to capacity, with everyone wanting to see how the story is told.

Some of the celebrities who attended the opening night included Peter Mashego, Makgano Mamabolo, James Ngcobo, Phemelo Motene, Nothemba Madumo and Thlabi.

The play starts where Kuzwayo's life ended, at her grave. Five women, wearing black outfits with hats which resemble a shower head, walk into the stage, carrying a casket.

The audience was taken through a detailed story of how she lived a life full of misfortunes.

Tragedies in Kuzwayo's life began at the age of five, when she was sexually abused by a man she regarded as an uncle.

She was again raped at the ages of 12 and 13 by people who were close to her family. She lost her father when she was just nine years old.

When she tried to move on with her life, Kuzwayo discovered that she was HIV positive at some point in her life.

In real life, Kuzwayo accused Jacob Zuma, who was ANC deputy president then, of rape in 2005. After a long trial, Zuma was acquitted of the rape charges in 2006.

The play got terribly tense as the audience was taken down memory lane on how she was ridiculed and humiliated by former president Zuma's lawyer during the court proceedings. The court scenes were so hectic that the audience was teary.

According to the play, the former president tried to get Kuzwayo to drop the charge, promising to give her and her family whatever they wanted.

Many ANC members who were trying to protect the party harassed the family to a point where Kuzwayo and her mother, Beauty Kuzwayo, went into hiding after the trial.

They lived in the Netherlands and later in Tanzania. They returned to South Africa in 2011.

She faced many problems during the trial. She hated that she had to be given the name Khwezi while the alleged culprit was not hiding. There was a day where she attended court proceedings without taking a bath because there was no running water at the safe house she was staying in.

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