Khwezi a ‘free-spirited’ person whose life was characterised by courage and pain

The woman who accused President Jacob Zuma of raping her 10 years ago has been described as a “free-spirited” person whose life was characterised by courage and pain.

Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo‚ 42‚ who was known in the media as ‘Khwezi’ to protect her identity during the ordeal‚ spent the last week of her life in a Johannesburg hospital and died on Saturday.

More than 200 mourners‚ some from as far as the UK and Tanzania‚ gathered at the Methodist Church in central Durban on Saturday to bid farewell to Kuzwayo‚ who died of an HIV/Aids-related illness.

Her funeral service was also attended by former South African Revenue Service official Ivan Pillay‚ who is facing fraud charges together with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Also in attendance was TV and radio personality Redi Tlhabi who was close to Kuzwayo.

Kuzwayo was described as a feminist and an HIV/Aids activist.

She got involved in HIV/Aids work with the Department of Home Affairs after her return from exile.

In self-imposed exile in the Netherlands after the rape case‚ she worked as a consultant for non-governmental organisations.

She also joined a rural development programme at Wageningen University where she worked with master’s degree students and told her story of what it meant to be HIV-positive.

Kuzwayo’s funeral service was dominated by struggle songs and the shouting of slogans.

Despite being acquitted of the rape charge in 2005‚ Zuma was not spared criticism by mourners‚ some of whom said they had no respect for him. There were also chants of “down with Zuma” from Aids activists.

Kuzwayo was also remembered for her love of songs‚ poetry and writing.

“Fezeka touched the lives of many in different parts of the world. Always making friends‚ becoming part of other families and inspiring others with her loving spirit and energy. She was known for her laughter‚ singing‚ dancing and her love of children‚” read her obituary leaflet.

Paying tribute her friend Prudence Mabele described Kuzwayo as a “feminist and intellectual” who suffered for 10 years.

“She was Fezeka … a whole person. Once she decided to love you‚ you had to love her back. This a place of truth.
A man is not the enemy. Something supported the ability of one man to be completely free of any culpability. I do not have respect for Zuma‚” she said.

She said Kuzwayo had suffered for 10 years because of patriarchy and not because of one man.

Kuzwayo‚ who was laid to rest at the Stellawood Cemetery‚ is survived by her mother Beauty Sibongile Kuzwayo‚ her sisters Zinhle Kuzwayo and Nondwe Phosa‚ her aunt Cordelia Khumalo and her niece Nokuzola Mbalenhle Kuzwayo.

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