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Zuma rape trial draws to a close

April 26, 2006
The Johannesburg High Court is hearing closing arguments in the rape trial of former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

On Wednesday, Judge Willem van der Merwe granted permission for the judgement - on a still unknown date - to be televised.

Mr Zuma is accused of raping a 31-year-old family friend, who is HIV positive, at his home last November.

He denies the rape charge, as well as separate charges of corruption.

Mr Zuma says he and the complainant had sex in his bedroom and that she initiated the intercourse.

She claims that Mr Zuma raped her in the guest room where she was spending the night.


What is not in dispute is that the former deputy president had unprotected sex with a woman he knew to be HIV positive.

While deputy president, Jacob Zuma was also head of South Africa's National Aids Council and the Moral Regeneration Movement.

His views on HIV prevention, which were aired in court, have shocked Aids activists, the BBC's Peter Biles says.

They say his irresponsible approach has set back the fight against HIV and Aids by many years, in a country where more than 5m people are HIV positive.

This time last year, Mr Zuma was considered a strong contender to succeed President Thabo Mbeki at the next elections in 2009.

But whatever the outcome of this high-profile rape trial, few people believe that Mr Zuma can now repair his damaged reputation to mount a serious challenge for the leadership of South Africa.

In July, he faces another trial on the corruption charges that led to his dismissal as deputy president last year.

The trial has been accompanied by demonstrations both for and against Mr Zuma, who remains a popular politician.