Mbeki ex-deputy charged with rape
Zuma was once considered likely to succeed Mbeki as president.
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- Former South African deputy president Jacob Zuma has been charged with rape, prosecutors said.
After his arraignment on Tuesday, Zuma was released on 20,000-rand ($3,075) bail, the National Prosecuting Authority said, with his trial scheduled to start February 13, 2006.
"Mr. Zuma duly appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court today, the 6th of December 2005, where the indictment and related documentation were served on him," a statement from the authority said.
Reports of the rape case against Zuma began circulating last month in local media.
Zuma is accused of assaulting a 31-year-old family friend at his home on November 2 after she refused his offer of a massage, according to the charge sheet. The identity of the alleged victim has not been disclosed.
"I wish to state clearly that I am innocent of these charges," Zuma said in a statement after the brief appearance. "I regard these allegations against me very seriously as I abhor any form of abuse against women."
Zuma was dismissed as deputy president in June after he was charged with corruption -- charges he has denied.
His former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was found guilty in June on charges that he paid Zuma about $195,000 for political favors and brokered a bribe from a French arms firm.
Zuma's supporters maintain the corruption charges are part of a smear campaign aimed at destroying his political career. He was once considered a candidate to succeed Mbeki after his second and final term ends in 2009.
The rape charge is politically damaging in South Africa where abuse against women and children is common, and analysts said Zuma was unlikely to recover.
"That race is over," John Stremlau, an international relations expert at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, told The Associated Press. "At the end of the day, no one is above the law."
|© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.