Former ANC MP and music artist Jennifer Ferguson revealed yesterday that she had allegedly been raped 24 years ago at a Port Elizabeth beachfront hotel by South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan.
Adding her voice to the tens of thousands of women across the globe who have joined the #MeToo campaign – aimed at speaking out against rape and sexual assault – Ferguson posted a heartfelt message on Facebook.
In a separate blog post, Ferguson named Jordaan, but he could not be reached for comment via the phone, text messages and WhatsApp messages (despite our WhatsApps being reflected as “seen” on his phone).
An attempt to obtain comment by visiting his home was also unsuccessful yesterday along with Whatsapp messages this morning.
As he could not be reached for comment yesterday, on legal advice The Herald initially did not name him.
Ferguson and Jordaan served as MPs in the country’s First National Parliament, under then President Nelson Mandela between 1994 and 1997.
She is an acclaimed singer, songwriter, composer, recording artist, actress and writer who now lives in Sweden.
“I was invited to sing at a dinner hosted by leading South African sports bodies and representative officials. As I recall, there were not many other women present,” Ferguson said.
She said it was a successful performance and as she planned to leave, Jordaan struck up a conversation with her.
“He was pleasant and entertaining … Danny Jordaan … I accepted his invitation to join him for a drink at the bar but said I needed to go up to my suite and change from my performance dress.”
He allegedly joined her in the lift and offered to wait for her in her hotel suite, she said.
“I felt a little uneasy as he entered my suite but beckoned him into the lounge and asked him to wait there while I changed.
“I entered my bedroom, closed the door and began to change. A few minutes later the door opened and he entered and without a word grabbed me and forced me onto the bed from behind.
“He overpowered me and painfully raped me. It must have been over in about 20 seconds, although it felt like a lifetime.
“He left immediately without saying a word.”
Ferguson said she had been left in a state of complete shock and pain.
“Bewildered. Not sure what to do. I washed and left the hotel and began to walk.
“I reached the beach and sat there a very long time trying to process what had happened. The thought of going to the police felt intolerable.
“What would I say? Should I have screamed louder? Fought him off harder? Had I been complicit in some way? All these questions raged in my mind. I wept.”
Ferguson said she had sat on the beach until the sun rose.
“It was not easy meeting Danny Jordaan in the breakfast area of the hotel. He disappeared as soon as I arrived. I would see him at many political gatherings thereafter … He would never meet me in the eye. Slide away as fast as possible,” she said.
Ferguson said she had decided to speak out as survivors of abuse did not need to feel shame.
“Because somewhere there is a template of shame and wrongdoing, a thought that it was my ‘fault’.
“And that I no longer need in my life.
“I am not speaking out to get revenge on [the man] or a million South African men like him. I am doing this so we can help each other be courageous, speak out and begin to heal.”
Apologising for not speaking out and possibly subjecting other women to the trauma she had endured, Ferguson said: “I was probably not the only woman raped by this man. I am deeply sorry that I was unable to report it when it happened and I apologise from my heart to any woman or young girl who may have suffered abuse by this man as a result of my colluding in the conspiracy of silence.”
Speaking to The Herald from Sweden earlier yesterday, Ferguson said she was not yet ready to discuss the matter further.
“I need to have my centre in order for me to talk about this. For me it’s like a black hole in the past – I have to pull out this painful thing,” she said.
Since last weekend, there has been a groundswell of global support for the #MeToo campaign, with women as well as men taking on social media and posting their experiences of sexual assault and harassment.
* This story has been updated from the print version to include Danny Jordaan’s name. He has been given sufficient time to respond to the allegations but is yet to respond.