The Kodwa Konspiracy

Andrew Donaldson writes on the latest sex scandal to ruffle the ANC



TOWARDS the end of an extraordinary life filled with much impropriety, the British writer William Donaldson took up crack cocaine when he found himself in thrall to a London prostitute. He would also use Rohypnol to further enliven their encounters.

The results were perhaps not as satisfactory as Donaldson (no relation) had intended. “The trouble is,” his obituary in the Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying, “it wipes your memory. You have to video yourself to appreciate just what a good time you had.”

This is not quite how Rohypnol, a schedule six drug designed to treat severe insomnia, is usually abused for recreational purposes. 

But such was its reputation as a date rape drug that its manufacturers, Roche, greatly modified their product in the late 1990s, reducing dosage, making it less soluble and adding a blue dye for easy detection in alcohol.

It’s for this reason that Rohypnol was probably not used, as has been suggested, to dope the woman that Zizi Kodwa, until very recently the ANC’s acting national spokesman, is accused of raping in an upmarket Sandton hotel suite in April last year. 

Her drink, it appears, may have instead been spiked with some Fong Kong roofie, an altogether more nasty experience which is detailed in her open letter to Kodwa.

The letter, which has been widely circulated on social media, was delivered to the ANC at Luthuli House and, with perhaps unfortunate timing, brought to Kodwa’s attention by secretary general Gwede Mantashe on Valentine’s Day.

Kodwa, as expected, has furiously denied any wrongdoing.

His accuser’s letter does however make for interesting reading, offering as it does a glimpse into the lifestyle of the new power elite. According to her, she had been invited to a Saturday evening drinks party at the Michelangelo by her then friend, Papa Leshabane, a director at Bosasa (now African Global Operations).

The woman had been to this suite before, and had enjoyed the evening. There was nothing that indicated a threat to her safety, she said, and around midnight, she wandered off to a bedroom where, rather than drive home under the influence of alcohol, she fell asleep.

The next morning, she bumped into Kodwa in the kitchen and he apparently insisted they have a glass of champagne together as they chatted. He was wearing a loose bathrobe, she said, and she noticed his blue underpants.

“I remember,” the woman wrote, “how you elaborated your admiration for me, you described how classy and well-kept I was the previous night, you described where I sat, how I behaved and that you had been watching me. I expressed my disinterest as I was there as someone’s guest.”

Seemingly undeterred, Kodwa managed to get her telephone number. Later that morning, a friend of the woman’s dropped by the suite. She too had a drink, and both women then reported feeling dizzy and decided to take a nap. 

It was about this time that Kodwa allegedly texted her, “I really want you.” Again, the woman made her feelings clear. “Nooooooooooo,” she texted back.

Her account now takes a woozy, surreal turn entering the realm of the fabled Spanish fly. 

She claims that she and her friend woke some hours later feeling “unnaturally aroused” and began to kiss and touch each other inappropriately, something that had never happened before. “I still have a vivid memory of the scene,” she wrote, “the images of that moment haunt me and hurt me so deeply. We are horny like possessed animals.”

It is at this point that Zizi allegedly entered proceedings, and the woman’s memory went blank. She claims that she and her friend later woke to applause from three men in the room. There were used condoms on the floor and, a telling detail, Kodwa’s blue underpants.

Her description of the long blackouts, the disorientation and dizziness, the intense hangover afterwards, the vomiting and nausea, does however give her claim that she’d been doped some verisimilitude.

She later discussed her ordeal with Leshabane, and they’d agreed that it was odd that a single glass of champagne would have had such an effect on her and her friend. It was Leshabane, she said, who suggested that her symptoms were consistent with accounts of other rape victims whose drinks had been spiked with Rohypnol.

She consulted with a doctor who advised her to approach the police. Leshabane, however, allegedly persuaded her not to, warning of unfavourable media coverage. Instead, he urged her to “sort it out” with Kodwa. Nothing came of this.

Leshabane has since distanced himself from his friend’s ordeal. 

“I know the lady very well,” he told TimesLIVE, “but when the alleged incident took place I was not there,  therefore I cannot vouch for anyone … I do not know. She came to me and spoke about it, telling me what had allegedly happened, but when you do not have proof of anything… I do not want to get involved in stuff like that.”

Kodwa’s response to his accuser is no less deplorable. He claims her letter is “replete with false accusations, [and] I am accused of rape, sexual assault and even drugging two women. At the outset, I deny these accusations with the contempt they deserve.”

He has also described this “grotesque” attack on his reputation as being part of a broader conspiracy. This is all too familiar, and is apparently the emerging default defence position with sex pests in the ANC leadership.

Previously, the party’s sex offenders — former chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe, former ambassador Norman Mashabane, former cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Sicelo Shiceka, to name a few — would silently weather the accusations against them with a sort of tight-lipped stoicism. 

Then, after a few months in the “political wilderness”, they’d be welcomed back into the fold, often with a new, lucrative posting and some backpay thrown into the deal.

Now the buggers hold noisy press conferences and issue statements about “the enemy”.

Take Marius Fransman, for example. Accused of sexually assaulting a former personal assistant in January 2016, the party’s former Western Cape chairman told journalists that the allegations were part of a “multi-pronged attack” to destroy his reputation in “the court of public opinion”.

“There is no question to me what is behind this,” Fransman said, somewhat bafflingly. “There is more than the eye can see. As the days have unravelled, we now know —and I can confidently say I do believe I know — what is actually behind it … and it does speak to particular individuals, and that will come out as time goes on.”

Time has indeed passed, and will do so for a while it seems. Despite a decision by prosecutors in December to charge Fransman, who is sitting out a five-year suspension from the party, it appears that a court date has yet to be set.

Elsewhere, ANC spokesman Pule Mabe has also experienced difficulty in the trouser department; in what appears to be a pattern of sorts, he too has been accused of bothering a former personal assistant. He has since been cleared of wrongdoing by his comrades. 

Mabe has also spoken of a conspiracy, although it appears to be a minor one between his accuser and several journalists with “nefarious agendas whose sole motive is character assassination”. 

The Kodwa Konspiracy, on the other hand, smacks of the real paranoid deal, coming as it does with a dramatic claim that its intended target could well be the democratic revolution itself and that all this is the work of a third force doing the dirty on behalf of the liberation struggle’s traditional foe.

In his statement, Kodwa rails on about “dirty tricks by cowards operating from their factional dark corners” and the dastardly use of women to “neutralise” him to “simply achieve narrow factional and political ends”. 

“I wish to expose and condemn this feeble yet dangerous attempt at political blackmail and manipulation, orchestrated by elements wishing to turn our politics into a jungle, a place for apartheid-like dirty tricks to silence others. I will not rest until I find out the identities of those behind this dirty trick they obviously learnt from their apartheid masters and handlers.”

Strike the Kodwa, it seems, and you strike the Kliché.

But getting to the bottom of this matter shouldn’t be too difficult. Kodwa has his accuser’s telephone number; he could, I suppose, start by simply giving her a call.


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