JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Former South African Deputy
President Jacob Zuma testified Tuesday at his rape trial that his
accuser led him to believe she wanted sex by lamenting she had no
boyfriend and wearing a skirt when she visited his house.
Zuma, who used to head South Africa's National AIDS Council,
claims he had consensual sex with the woman, an HIV-positive AIDS
activist. On Tuesday, he said for the first time that he was not
infected with the virus that causes AIDS and he saw little risk
in having unprotected sex with the woman.
Under cross examination from the prosecution, Zuma, 63, said he
did not use a condom when he had sex with his 31-year-old accuser
because he believed the risk of a man being infected by a woman
is statistically lower than a woman picking up the virus from a
"I knew that the risk I was taking was not a great risk," Zuma
AIDS activists fear Zuma's behavior may set a bad example in a
country that has the highest number of people with HIV in the
world and where men often have multiple partners and are
notoriously reluctant to use condoms.
The woman, a longtime family friend who referred to Zuma as
uncle, has accused him of raping her at his home Nov. 2 when she
came over for dinner and stayed overnight as a guest.
Zuma denies the charges and says it is part of a political plot
to destroy his ambition of becoming South African president when
Thabo Mbeki steps down in 2009.
On his second day of testimony, Zuma repeatedly insisted the
woman encouraged his sexual advances by using terms such as
"love" and "kisses" in cellphone text messages, as well as
telling him that she was lonely and had no boyfriend.
He told the court that her appearance also played a role.
"Normally when she came to visit she would be wearing [pants].
But on the day in question, she was wearing a skirt and her legs
were exposed," he said. "That gave me an indication that she
was expecting me to be of some assistance to her."