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JOHANNESBURG — Vytjie Mentor shot to fame when she dropped a bombshell on Facebook about how she turned down an offer by the Guptas to replace Barbara Hogan as Public Enterprises Minister. In that famous story, Mentor reveals how President Jacob Zuma was in the Guptas’ home at the time of the offer. Mentor, a long-time ANC veteran, has publicly communicated her displeasure with Zuma’s leadership. But she looks set to drop another bombshell with deeply disturbing allegations of sexual harassment in her new self-published book, titled ‘No Holy Cows’. In it, she describes how Zuma allegedly tried to sexually harass her on several occasions. She also tells of how Zuma almost developed a David and Bathsheba reputation in the struggle days of Apartheid. In the Bible, King David committed adultery and impregnated Bathsheba. In a bid to cover up the scandal, David ultimately ordered the army to put Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, at the frontline of a battle. Uriah died, and Bathsheba became David’s wife. However, David was punished by God for his sins by Bathsheba’s child becoming a still-born… – Gareth van Zyl
By Donwald Pressly*
Vytjie Mentor has self-published her book No Holy Cows. In it, she tells the tale of being sexually harassed by President Jacob Zuma years ago when he was still Deputy President – before he was fired by President Thabo Mbeki.
In the early mid-2000s, Vytjie Mentor was the chairperson of the African National Congress parliamentary caucus. She also became chairperson of the public enterprises portfolio committee. She was a Big Fish in the governing party, having only been elected to parliament in 2002 – when a vacancy arose three years after the 1999 election.
Mentor says she became concerned about certain deals involving EDU-Solutions, a company linked to the head of government business, Zuma himself at the time, and the man she played a role in getting rid of – after a sexual harassment charge was brought against him – ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe. It was arranged that she went to the Deputy President’s office. She noticed Zuma became “very angry” (her words).
“I was dismayed at how he became very angry as soon as I began to query the transactional relationships between caucus accounts and companies like EDU-Solutions.” At one of the meetings, she went to the office. “The Deputy President asked the guard that was in the office to leave, promising that he would be safe in my presence.” She reports that he suggested that rather than sitting at the table in the room, they should move to a couch. “I did not suspect any foul play and I responded positively to his suggestion by taking my handbag and paperwork to go and sit (sic) on the coach that was the nearest to the boardroom table.”
The long and short of it was: “He sat right next to me in a very tight way.” This surprised Vytjie and made her feel “very uncomfortable”. As she moved away “he moved closer to me again, and so I stood up and went to sit on the other couch and he followed me. At that point, I wanted to leave, but I decided to stay for a few more minutes to see what he was actually up to. “I did this because I wanted to satisfy myself …beyond doubt … I wanted to be certain without any fear of contradiction that what the Deputy President was trying to do was to take advantage of me.”
The then deputy president shoved his hand between Mentor’s thighs.
He followed her to the other couch, and as he sat down, said. “He chastised me and told me to stop behaving like a child.” He told her she was “intombi endala” (a grown up girl or a young lady) and she must act as such. He went further “and shoved his hand in between my thighs”. He did this “very fast” and pushed it (his hand) as deep as he could and he did this with intent. “I was wearing stockings and I have big inner-thighs that became the wall (barrier) that stopped his hand from travelling further up towards my pubic area.” At that point, Vytjie reported, “I lost my cool and I grabbed my handbag from the coffee table, and with full-force and a mighty swing, I slapped him across his ugly face with my handbag and thereafter I rushed very fast out of his office.” When I forced open the door to go out the guard asked Mentor what was wrong: “I told him to ask Zuma what was wrong.”
“From that day onwards I knew just how dirty Zuma was, and how he preys on women, especially those that were promising and that had the potential to go very far in their political careers,” Mentor said.
But she also tells a tale of sexually inappropriate behaviour nearly 20 years before that.
It all happened before, long before.
Some 25 years before this incident, Mentor attended her first ANC consultative conference – the first held in the country after President FW de Klerk unbanned the ANC. It was held in Durban from 14 to 16 December 1990. She had just given birth to her daughter, Nthabiseng, three months before.
On the second day of the conference, she was leaving the main entrance to the plenary hall to attend the nursery on the campus. There was a green Toyota Camry parked outside. There were two men in it. One man was sitting on the bank of the vehicle.
“As I passed one of the men standing outside it beckoned me and told me that the man sitting in the back seat wanted to speak to me. “I very naively did not think anything was suspicious.” The man turned out to be Jacob Zuma, but she only found that out later. “I … went towards the man in the back seat and as I approached he rolled down the window of the car fully and then greeted me in isiZulu. I greeted the man with a very big bald forehead back in English, and he asked me if I could speak isiZulu. I told him that I understood the language very well, but that I did not have the confidence to speak (it) as I had a full accent that was almost Afrikaans-like. This oldish man burst out giggling in a very funny manner that immediately irritated me immensely.”
“The man asked me my name and I told him who I was. He asked me where I came from and I told him I was from Kimberley, he then asked me if I could help him to get diamonds in Kimberley, and I told him that if he wanted any diamonds he must go and speak to the De Beers company as it was the one that was mining diamonds in Kimberley. The guy burst out again into his funny giggle, and I told him that I did not mean to be rude, but that I was in a rush to go and breast-feed my baby in the nursery. Funnily enough, this man got very excited and he asked me where I was staying for the duration of the conference. I asked him why he wanted to, and he said that he would like to come and pick me up at night. I asked him what for, and he said that he would like to get to know me better and that he wanted to spend some more time with me. I asked him what should happen to my baby when I was spending an evening with an old man, and he said he would make a plan for my baby. I got very disgusted at that point and I walked away.”
Nthabiseng’s father, part of the ANC’s security establishment, was nearby. He had witnessed her talking to “the old man”. He told Vytjie Mentor about the experience of young male combatants of the ANC in exile. Basically Zuma was notorious for sending the combatants somewhere on duties elsewhere while he preyed on the women. “He (Nthabiseng’s father) vowed that he was not going to allow the man in the … Camry… to repeat what used to happen in exile.”
Mentor says that from that day onwards “I watched that man carefully as he charmed unsuspecting women and used them in great numbers to further his nefarious agendas.” When the story of Khwezi broke – the women who charged Zuma with rape – “I knew that Khwezi could not have lied… and I automatically supported her and believed her even though I had never met her.”
Vytjie Mentor will spill the beans on the president at the Cape Town Press Club on Thursday 13 July at lunch time. See (www.capetownpc.org.za) for details of the event.
- Donwald Pressly is the editor of Cape Messenger.
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