We need to talk about SA politicians who get away with sexual violence

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After the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced that it would be dropping its sexual assault case against Marius Fransman we got thinking. Which other politicians out there have had sexual assault/harassment cases laid against them? 

The South African justice system often fails survivors of sexual assault. That is the reality.

This was made even more evident with the recent charge of sexual assault laid against ANC Western Cape Leader Marius Fransman, which was dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority due to a “lack of sufficient evidence.” Fransman allegedly sexually assaulted his personal assistant on their way to ANC’s 104th birthday celebrations in Rustenburg in January.

Louisa Wynand, who laid the charges against Fransman, revealed her identity in an attempt to draw attention to her case and to shine a light on sexual harassment. She will now be taking on the NPA, as she and her legal team believe they have provided enough evidence for a conviction.

But this isn’t the first time politicians have been involved in cases of sexual assault. Which is troubling, because these are the leaders that South Africans have elected, so you’d kind of expect them to stay on the right side of the law, right? Unfortunately not. Here are three more sexual assault cases that South African politicians have been embroiled in.

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1. The Jacob Zuma rape trial
One of the most prominent political figures to have been involved in a sexual assault case was President Jacob Zuma. In 2006, he was accused of raping an HIV-positive family friend. The 31-year-old accused him of rape after they had unprotected sex at his home in Johannesburg. The judge, however, ruled that the encounter was consensual.

The case also raised alarm bells for Aids campaigners when he made the comment about how taking a shower after sex can reduce your risk of transmission. You know the one.

2. The DA’s Archibald Figlan 
In 2015, a Democratic Alliance (DA) MP, Archibald Figlan, was accused of sexual assault after he forced a DA staff member to touch his crotch during a protest march in Cape Town. This was just before Zuma delivered the State of the Nation Address.

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She claimed that Figlan “took my hand and put it on his privates” during the march just before police dispersed the crowd using water cannons. Figlan was found guilty of sexual harassment by the party’s federal legal commission, but seemed to only get a slap on the wrist as he was only temporarily suspended and still got to keep his job in the end.

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3. The ANC’s Mbongeni Radebe
In another case, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Acting Chairperson Mandisa Mashego accused an ANC member of the legislature, Mbongeni Radebe, of sexually harassing her in parliament. She laid a charge of sexual harassment against him in 2015 at the Johannesburg central police station.

She went on to accuse other ANC colleagues of threatening their female counterparts with physical violence or sexual harassment when they failed at debating political issues. In an interview with Destiny Magazine, she said that it’s not uncommon for women to be treated in this way in political circles.

According to a survey released by UN Women in 2015, South Africa has the second-highest number of female ministers, with 41.7%, or 15 female ministers out of 36. But the rate of sexual violence in the country, which has not left our elected officials untainted, shows that representation of women alone will not have an impact without structural change.

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