Upon hearing some details of the Zwelinzima Vavi rape saga, the public will not be blamed for remembering the stained, blue dress twist in the Monica Lewinsky and former US President Bill Clinton scandal. Lewinsky kept the dress that she had been wearing on the day that she performed oral sex on the president. The dress was stained by the president’s semen. When she handed the dress over to authorities 17 months later, it still had not been washed and the evidence which rocked Clinton’s political career was still detectable. Six months later, Zwelinzima Vavi’s accuser still has evidence of the sexual encounter. She disclosed this in an open letter she wrote to the Sunday Times. Like Lewinsky, it seems she also kept the stained dress in case it would one day help prove her case.
In Vavi’s case, the evidence on the dress may prove unnecessary for two reasons. Zwelinzima Vavi, the General Secretary of COSATU, does not deny that he did have sexual intercourse with the complainant but he denies that he raped her. Vavi claims that the sexual intercourse was consensual and his accuser had shown no signs of resistance during the act. He insists that this is all part of the threats to his life and political career.
Another reason that the dress evidence may be rendered unnecessary is that the complainant has withdrawn the rape claims she made against Vavi. According to Vavi’s statements on Twitter, the unnamed woman withdrew her grievance after two hours into the internal disciplinary hearing held on Monday.
After the alleged rape, the woman and the husband are accused of attempting to extort R 2 million from the politician and his wife. The accuser said that the money would cover her medical expenses, relocation costs and loss of income. In exchange, she would keep the incident a private matter. Vavi and his lawyers retaliated with an extortion charge.
Both Vavi and his accuser did not want to discuss the details of the hearing but Vavi’s relief was obvious on Twitter. He tweeted: “I won’t do interviews on the statement – tired – spending afternoon with my family.”
Zwelinzima Vavi issued a statement on the COSATU website: “I am pleased that the grievance has been finalized. I hope that we all can put this saga behind us so that we all can concentrate on the real issues of the day – ensuring that we have a vibrant trade union federation that promotes South Africa, the interests of workers and the working class as a whole.”
The extortion charge against the woman who accused Vavi of rape is still under investigation by the South African Police Services.