Rape live on television

I’ve been a little out of touch for a while.

On sticking my head back out into the world, I discover that the latest winner of Big Brother Africa won AFTER apparently raping a woman on-air. And either few in the media have noticed, or they just don’t give a damn. The Human Rights Commission has “condemned the incident” but is apparently not taking any other action.

I’ve spoken to Victor Mavhidula, a senior complaints officer at the Commission for Gender Equality. Mavhidula was aware of the incident. The CGE, however, has not yet even released a statement on the matter. Mavhidula has, following my call, said he will raise the matter internally. A brief glance at the CGE Act confirms that an investigation would be within their mandate, if they’ve the stomach for it.

The facts of the matters appear to be:

  1. Big Brother plies contestants with booze on a Saturday night late in October. Ofunneka Molokwu is so drunk, she’s vomiting.
  2. Contestant Richard Bezuidenhout allegedly inserts his fingers into the vagina of an unconscious or semi-conscious Ofunneka Molokwu.
  3. Then, according to The Sowetan, the “producers sent paramedics into the house because Molokwu and Durao were sobbing uncontrollably and vomiting after the incident.”
  4. The producers spin and cover up, and all participants now claim they have no memory of the event. Molokwu claims she was not raped. Bezuidenhout walks away grinning with a huge cash prize of $100,000, saying, “I’ve done my country [Tanzania] proud.”
  5. Outraged viewers claims their comments are not broadcast, and that internet forums are censored. Strangely enough, there’s not a whisper about these disgraceful events on the Endemol website.

Let’s be clear about how serious this is, if the facts are as they appear to be:

  • Bezuidenhout should be charged with rape.
  • The producers of Big Brother should be charged as accessories.
  • The CEOs of Endemol SA, Moeletsi Mbeki; of M-Net, one Glen Marques; and of its holding company Naspers, Cobus Stofberg, should have the decency to resign immediately.

Perhaps that would shake some understanding of what rape is and how serious it is, into South Africans.

The story is circulating pretty widely on blogs overseas, where people know rape when they see it:

TheFirstPost.co.uk and again

These are the only other references to the incident I can find in the SA press:

Ray Hartley’s Times blog
BizCommunity.co.za

The public silence and acquiescence around this event shines quite a lot of light on South Africa’s ongoing rape crisis.

About David

I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.
This entry was posted in 'The news', Human rights and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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