Gang rape video asks questions of media

2012-04-18 22:55

Johannesburg - The media's use of screen shots and audio clips from the video of a Soweto teenager being gang raped was "highly problematic", a media analyst said on Wednesday.

University of the Witwatersrand journalism professor Anton Harber said that while the media could argue that use of the images and audio were in the public interest, the footage should be used only with "extreme caution and sensitivity".

"However, it would be ludicrous to charge the media over this."

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said the NPA had "reservations" about use of the video by the media.

The material would be used as evidence when the matter went to court and could be compromised if it were published or broadcast.

He also warned the public against accessing the video, as it was child pornography.

"Possession [and] circulation of child pornography is a criminal offence and we won't hesitate to prosecute anyone arrested by the police."

The video was apparently filmed on a cellphone camera and depicted a 17-year-old girl being raped by at least seven males.

The girl, who was reported missing on March 25, was found in a house in Braamfischerville on Wednesday, said Warrant Officer Kay Makhubele.

He said a man found with the girl was arrested for her abduction, and there was a possibility that he could be charged with rape.

On Tuesday, five men and two boys matching the description of those in the video were arrested in Dobsonville.

Video went viral

On Wednesday, the video of the rape went "viral" and became one of the main topics trending on social networking site Twitter.

EyeWitnessNews (EWN) broadcast an audio clip of the rape video, with a warning to sensitive listeners, while the Daily Sun published a screen shot of the girl in a seated position, with men standing around her.

Film and Publications Board chief executive Yoliswa Makhasi said she was shocked and angered by members of the public who went looking for the video on social networking sites.

"We also urge the media not to publish links or explicit images emanating from the 'rape video'... due consideration for the protection of children from exposure to this kind of explicit and violent content must be considered and prioritised."

The Daily Sun published a picture of the teenager on its front page, but did not print the girl's name.

Harber said this was "highly problematic" as the girl was both a minor and a rape victim.

Daily Sun general manager Minette Ferreira defended the decision to use the images and said the girl's mother had given permission for use of the photograph.

"[The girl] had been missing since March. Her mother was desperately looking for her. We published the picture in an attempt to track her and subsequently, in half a day, we found her."

She said the newspaper had consulted its lawyers and the press ombudsman before printing the pictures.

A reader tipped off the newspaper after finding the rape video on her child's cellphone.

"We contacted the police immediately and worked with them until she was found. This morning we deleted the video from our system."

Ferreira said the Daily Sun chose the images carefully to avoid compromising the video evidence.

"In the still, the suspects are unidentifiable and there isn't anything macabre shown."

Public demand

EWN Editor-in-Chief Katy Katopodis said her news team carefully selected two five-second audio clips from the video.

"This is not something we entered into lightly.

"The clips we used were very short, edited and non-explicit... We tried to be as responsible and sensitive as possible."

She said EWN received a large number of requests from the public and other media houses for a link to the video, but refused.

"Our stance is very clear. We can't distribute something like this."

The video did not appear on the EWN website and was deleted from the company's computers.

Katopodis said the audio clips were intended to make the public aware of the "heinous" crime, and illustrated that it was rape rather than a consensual act.

  • anthonyralphwilson - 2012-04-18 23:16

    they should be charged with distrubuting child pornograph and the girl's parents should find a lawyer to sue these insensitive pricks for public humiliation

      Johan - 2012-04-18 23:27

      Did you bother to read the whole article?

      anthonyralphwilson - 2012-04-18 23:54

      yes i did and its clear theyll do anything for sales

      Sean - 2012-04-18 23:56

      ``Katopodis said the audio clips were intended to make the public aware of the "heinous" crime, and illustrated that it was rape rather than a consensual act.`` I agree with that , but it is very difficult , where do you draw the line and what if it was your child ?? I hope those gang bastards all rot in jail !!

      skootzie - 2012-04-19 07:11

      // girl's parents should find a lawyer to sue these insensitive pricks // // yes i did and its clear theyll do anything for sales // " Daily Sun general manager Minette Ferreira defended the decision to use the images and said the girl's mother had given permission for use of the photograph. " I don't think you did read the entire article.

      Rob - 2012-04-19 07:36 al: The public, or more to the point my family, have a right to know when society is crumbling. They also have a right to know who is the cause and what is happening. At the same time the victim should be allowed privacy and respect. These are not contradictions but do require appropriate sensitivity on the part of the media.

      thozi - 2012-04-19 08:26

      I think in this context, the paper did more good than harm. I'm trying to understand why anthonyralphwilson feels the paper should be sued.

      Narike - 2012-04-19 11:31

      They managed to find the girl in HALF A DAY after she'd been missing for THREE WEEKS. Sometimes the end justifies the means.

  • Jerry - 2012-04-18 23:20

    ANC has a point when coming to the media tribunal issue.

      Sean - 2012-04-18 23:53

      Maybe you should go work in the circus as a clown !

  • Louise - 2012-04-18 23:25

    It's perfectly possible to fully understand the horror WITHOUT audio clips and links. The only acceptable use of an image was Daily Sun who published a photo without giving the name - in an effort to help find the girl. There's NO need for audio clips - readers and listeners don't have to be spoonfed to comprehend the story.

  • sagrenm1 - 2012-04-18 23:36

    I think that it was insensitive to hash tag the story #rapevideo on twitter, because the very title itself attracts many unsavoury people scouring for porn on the internet and I believe this contributed in a big way to the story going viral on the internet making it a mission for people out there to go and find the video as it was what they were expecting to see when they clicked the trending topic. Further to this, many journalists reference the hash tag #rapevideo incessantly in many of their tweets relating to the topic, knowing well they are creating an expectation from the followers that a video exists following the link. More sensitivity could have been exercised and the #tag for this topic could have been called something else that is less provactive.

  • Dipzen - 2012-04-18 23:45

    If its the guy in norway who killed 77 people its this ai we live in a sick world. Not even animals behave like this. I don't know about anyone else but for once I think the death penalty is needed in such extreme cases

  • Patrick - 2012-04-19 00:16

    There s a lot o4 wrong things happening in luvly Mzantsi. After the election o4 1994,children nd women were give rights. a 11 yrs old girl can go 4 abortion without consulting her parents. why? early teenage pregnance s number s very high. there s a lot o4 drops out at school . again they gt involve in unprotected sex, nd end up getting sick by STDs.This 17 yrs old girl went missing on the 25 match, nd they found her 2dy. Why she stay away 4rm home, nd what about her parents ? To me it shows dat she s 1 o4 those who dn,t want 2 listen 2 her parents. To me it luk lyk our goverment s destroying our children s future, bcz nw they dn,t want 2 listen 2 us nw anymore. This btiful Mzantsi s going down, instead o4 improving.our goverment must wake up b4 its getting 2 late.

      Gungets - 2012-04-19 05:47

      You might have a point, but who would know. Patrick - this is not twitter, or a BBM group. Rather write longhand, or even in your home language, if you really want to make your point.

      thozi - 2012-04-19 08:42

      Seems Patric is proud of his ability to write in "SMS" format - even when it's not necessary.

      Liz - 2012-04-19 08:47

      Patrick - "Why she stay away 4rm home, nd what about her parents ? To me it shows dat she s 1 o4 those who dn,t want 2 listen 2 her parents." She didn't stay away from home, she was kidnapped! And, she is mentally disabled, so I don't think the trouble was that she "didn't want to listen to her parents". She was preyed upon by monsters because of her vulnerability. We can not lay even a speck of blame on this girl.

      VaMbozha - 2012-04-19 09:22

      i like your gramma

  • braamc - 2012-04-19 00:36

    Time the public get shocked to really make a change for the good, for our Police force and government will do nothing

      Gungets - 2012-04-19 05:49

      If we need to see pictures, or hear audio, of a rape to be shocked, then it is way too late. Just the mere thought of it should enrage us.

  • Arthur - 2012-04-19 03:13

    I have to kind of agree that the media shouldn't publish photo's or videos of such things. Seeing the girl, or hearing her pleas is not in public interest. It's okay for the journalist to see or hear it and then write about it, but no self respecting human being in the public sphere should want to hear or see it. Not only that, but it's completely disrespectful to the victim. The media can approach the family and get a recent photo instead, they don't need to publish audio or stills of the actual rape, it's tasteless and cheap. Journo's like that do not gain my respect at all.

  • Deon - 2012-04-19 04:00

    I can understand publishing the photo to help finf the child, no need to publish the audio clips, this poor child will some how be reminded by those clips for the rest of her life, if it was there child would they have published the clips?

      Marion - 2012-04-19 08:03

      @Deon. No.

  • Arthur - 2012-04-19 05:06

    To the guy who thumbed me down: I don't really care that you did, but I want you to know that if you think it's okay to watch / hear / see a still photo of a rape victim then that means you're a rapist yourself. I want you to know that I know what a pathetic loser you are, and that nobody loves you, and that you're all alone in this world. I want you to know that you're abnormal, pathetic and useless. I want you to know that by raping women or even just thinking about it you just prove to yourself that everything I said is true. You are one sick F**k and you need counselling. I just tried to Google a number to phone (as if I was raped and wanted to phone some organisation) and sadly after clicking on 20 websites and probably 10 links off each of those websites I still don't know who to phone in a crisis. No wonder criminals get away with rape and murder.

      Jayson - 2012-04-19 06:09

      I totally agree with you Arthur. We are living in a very sick society.

      Jean - 2012-04-19 06:46

      I can describe it for u! A pathetic f@©kn' abnormal .........!!!!!?

  • DustFree - 2012-04-19 05:18

    Kudos to them assisting with finding the girl...but audio clips and stills from the video is just plain sensationalism. Just another way to up ratings and traffic to a website, as well as to sell more of an rather unprofessional newspaper which often contain poorly researched articles and sensationalist headlines to attrack the so-called masses. Without realising that they have dual responsibility, i.e. a responsibility to the readers (by reporting truthfully and OBJECTIVELY) and a responsibility to the people being reported about. The media's habit is to report whatever in the first article or two on the front page (nogal) and then to apologise in a small little block on some other page which no one reads. Damage is done and papers are sold and the advertising income rolls in. A job well done! Ag nee man.

  • Dennis - 2012-04-19 05:24

    Total moral degeneration !! Thank you ANC !!

      Gungets - 2012-04-19 05:57

      If you think rape is a new thing (post 1994), or only endemic in South Africa, then you are sadly out of touch. Rape has been a scourge in SA for ever, and has been used as a crime of violence throughout history across the world. Find something else to justify your preoccupation with politics, you are not helping this victim, or any future victims of rape.

      Liz - 2012-04-19 09:03

      Gungets - why so quick to insult? Deeteem never said that this is new and that in only happens in SA. I totally agree with his comment of "total moral degeneration". Surely you do too when reading this story and hearing of how many people actually watched the video as well? And there is actually a lot that the ANC, as the ruling party of this country, can do to help eradicate the shocking rape statistics in our country. Many of these rapists do not even understand that what they are doing is criminal and how it is actually affecting the victim (scary, I know), and how they can't translate a woman/child/man's screams and cries of pain as something bad, is beyond me. But sadly, that it how it is, many studies have shown that some of these rapists truly believe that a woman means "yes" when she says "no", and that women are there purely for the sexual gratification of men. The ANC can do a whole lot more to educate these types of monsters on the actuality of rape and what it really means, why they should respect others (women especially), what it does to the victim and so on. EDUCATION! Don't take your anger out on fellow commentators on here who are just as horrified by this situation as you are, and who want our government to stand up against rape.

      Gungets - 2012-04-19 11:59

      LizK. 1. There was no insult - I pointed out that rape is not a new thing and that the current government cannot be held responsible for the actions of animals. 2. As long as we blame someone else, or make someone else responsible for stopping crime, we abdicate responsibility and, in a way, condone it. 3. Of course the rapists understand the crime. Of course they understand the screams of pain. That is why they do it. Rape is not a sexual crime - it is a crime of violence. The physcial act of rape is merely a way in which to exercise power. 4. We - parents, need to take action. I have a daughter. I have high hope for her future, that she will find a man that loves her, that regards her happiness as his first priority, that her physical safety is something that he will protect at all costs. I want that man to be concerned with her wellbeing every moment of every day, with no exceptions. I am bringing my son up to be that sort of man. So, go ahead and criticise me. South Africa has a rape victim every 20 seconds, every day, every year. If we need a video to highlight that then we are stupid, ignorant and violent. If we are relying on SOMEONE ELSE to do something about it, then we are beyond redemption. MAKE IT PERSONAL!!!

  • carpejugulim - 2012-04-19 05:40

    Isn't it amazing ... the poor child is reported missing and stays missing for 3 weeks with her mother looking frantically for her. It took a video clip of a gang rape before the world was turned upside down to find her and she was found in half a day ... why did it take violence before she became a priority?

      Stephen - 2012-04-19 07:51

      It's sad, but that video saved her.

  • Toofaan - 2012-04-19 05:46

    This is a really interesting topic. I agree that we should be respectful of the victim. Images of this sick act should only be published with very careful consideration. On the other hand, maybe we need Shock tactics to wake up the people in power. There are animals out there and we need to demonstrate just how big the problem is so that we can get some action.

      Marion - 2012-04-19 08:00

      @Toofaan - There is no need to publish ANY images or sound clips whatsoever from that video to 'demonstrate' how big the problem is. In fact I think we have actually become quite immune to any pain and suffering based on the graphic news they dish out to us daily about real people.

      Toofaan - 2012-04-19 08:33

      @Marion - I actually agree with you 100%. There should be no need to publish any of this filth in a civilised society. I just lament the fact that these incidents are not taken seriously enough. An example is this whole thread where we are commenting more about the media publishing obscene content rather than commenting about how sick the actual offence is. It seems that nobody takes note of the depravity in society. My worry is that if we had just the story, nobody would be interested in it (because as you say we've become immune to it). If nobody is interested in it there will be no voices to speak out against it and this kind of violence keeps happening unopposed. One can only hope that the sensation that this story creates leads to appropriate action against the perps involved.

  • Katlego - 2012-04-19 06:47

    Hang the little rapists! Better yet, I hope the video is used to nail them and they get their turn of gang-rape this winter! Sis!

  • Bongani - 2012-04-19 07:01

    A very strong message must be sent and quickly that is. The message sent must be talk of the nation like the video itself. This is really disgusting. Kwenze njani bantu bakithi, lafa izwe lethu sibuka.

  • Marion - 2012-04-19 07:38

    Publishing a picture of her surrounded by men and sound clips is not in the public interest and personally I don't care how carefully they selected their images and sound bits. If this is what they call 'self-regulation' in the industry then they are not regulating themselves very well.

      Zukiswa - 2012-04-20 12:21

      I agree very much this wasn't suppose to be published in any way,what abt our teenage kids who will see this.

  • Manu - 2012-04-19 07:49

    So it's the media that were distributing this video? No no no no no not acceptable. Totally unacceptable. I feel so angry right now. Highly irresponsible behaviour. The journalists responsible for this need to have the book thrown at them and very hard. Some jail time might be in order here.

  • Linda - 2012-04-19 07:59

    Well done to the media, this child was found threw them..

  • Jayson - 2012-04-19 08:14

    WTH. News 24. You cut my comment. For what reason????????????

      Pulverturm - 2012-04-19 10:49

      They do that a lot!

  • Azmeena - 2012-04-19 08:21

    What seems to have been forgotten here is that a child was brutally gang raped. We should be concentrating on this poor child who needs as much help as she can get.

  • Lindokuhle - 2012-04-19 08:32

    Did they use condomz during raping tym?i just wana knw

  • allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-04-19 08:40

    The video should be broadcast , perhaps then the true horror of these crimes can be demonstrated . Public outrage is mis-directed from the perpetrators to the media because you are supposed to be outraged as its an outrageous incident that is not a once off event but a daily occurence . Seeing is believing .

      Marion - 2012-04-19 09:20

      @allcoveredinNinjas - 'Seeing is believing?' Are you serious? You wouldn't have that video on your cellphone by any chance would you.

      Liz - 2012-04-19 09:32

      Surely you must have absolutely no respect for the victim of this heinous crime if you truly think that this video should be broadcast. You will be humiliating and degrading her all over again!! And, just by the way, distribution of a GANG RAPE video is a crime, even more so when the ones involved are underage. Why the hell would you want people to watch this??? If this had happened to a female that you loved, would you really want the video to be out there so that people can watch her suffering?? That's sick.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-04-19 11:06

      Why the hell would you want people to watch this??? Motivation , to actually do something rather than dismiss another gang-rape article in the newspaper . It happens everyday , the difference in this case is that it is recorded , would you be as actively outraged if it wasn't ? Why do think they use shock advertisng in anti-tobacco/road safety ads. As unpallatable as that is , its a mirror for what is happening and not a diminished reflection so as to hit home the message.

      Marion - 2012-04-19 11:47

      @allcoveredinNinjas - there is a major difference between the shock value of advertising in tobacco and road safety ads and the screening of a gang rape. In case you never noticed, but every article about this on News24 has resulted in an outcry about this horrific incident. And that without it being accompanied by any pics or videos pertaining to the 'incident'.

      Liz - 2012-04-19 13:01

      Hell yes I would be just as outraged as I am now if this crime was not caught on video. What kind of a question is that? A young, mentally ill girl was gang raped!! Whether it was filmed or not does not diminish the horror of what this girl endured. I want to reiterate again that distribution of rape and child pornography is ILLEGAL- with good reason. So it will never happen. I also want to ask you again- if someone you loved was the victim, would you honestly feel comfortable having her relive the trauma over and over again by distributing the video? Would you feel comfortable with humiliating her again? Would you feel comfortable having thousands of unknown people watch a video of this happening to her?? Only sick and twisted people would want to watch something like this, and I would not want to feed their disturbing hunger by giving them this type of video.

  • Jane - 2012-04-19 10:07

    This case is so sickening and I am almost unable to comprehend the violence against this girl. How is it possible that there a 7 or 8 likeminded men who just happen to be friends and are all so evil. It is terrifying that this kind of act is committed by a group of people who all know each other, and not one of them thought to put a stop to it? As for the media printing snippets/sound clips or pictures, sometimes things need to be put in front of people, where we have no option but to take note, because only then do we feel urged to do something. I think a lot of us have become overwhelmed by the hopelessness of the crime is this country and have become desensitized to most things. But putting a face or a voice to something makes it impossible to ignore. I do think that the media played a role in finding this poor girl, last night’s news report on SABC and E-TV stated that the mother might be charged as well due to the fact that she had not reported her daughter missing. This is a contradiction to the statement issued by the Daily Sun saying the mother had been "desperately looking for her". One can only wonder what went wrong with these boys/men? How did they become such monsters? Parents need to start taking note of their children. All to often parents overlook things saying that boys will be boys and such. Don't overlook your kids bullying other kids, or being disrespectul to other children or adults, don't pretend you don't see when they hurt animals, these are all signs.

  • madlalabrothers - 2012-04-19 10:10

    Ake banikwe umphakathi udile ngalendaba umthetho ake unikwe umphakathi uzigwebele lelicala

  • Nirosha - 2012-04-19 10:59

    Why prove to the public this was a rape rather than a consensual act. Prove it in the courts and lock them away for life. There is no excuse for this audio clips, the media helped to find her but will prolong her suffering.

  • mohammedfaried.ebrahim - 2012-04-19 15:34

    media i agree with anthony bunch of pricks. insensitive.

  • annari.duplessis - 2012-04-20 06:10

    1. Stop Kony, Speak up, Speak out. #CompassionCoup 2. #CompassionCoup 3. 35000 kids have seen Kony's face up close. Unfortunately the injustices they experienced didn't stop there. #CompassionCoup 4. How many of Kony's child soldiers chose their fate? Death can be a powerful motivator. #CompassionCoup 5. Tell the world who Kony is. #CompassionCoup

  • themba.paradise2 - 2012-04-20 16:37

    This is so painfull such young boys do an evil act to a young girl,where is humility and I thnk they should learn from this.Ngoba ligotswa lisemanzi

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