Prominent figures on rape lists

2019-09-06 15:00
The 16 Days of Activism campaign will run until 10 December this year

The 16 Days of Activism campaign will run until 10 December this year

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A KwaZulu-Natal senior government manager, celebrities, politicians and businessmen have been outed as alleged rapists on social media amid the uproar about gender-based violence and femicide. Twitter accounts have been created where rape and sexual assault victims can anonymously expose alleged rapists and sexual predators.

But men are fighting back.

A senior eThekwini manager named on Wednesday denied the rape allegations made against him on one of the lists.

Speaking to The Witness on Thursday, the manager, who will not be named, said he heard about the allegations from his 19-year-old son. “We do recognise that women are under siege in South Africa and they may have a feeling that they are on their own. When somebody is in a state of war, they may use methods which are out of the ordinary.”

The manager said he welcomed platforms that ensure survivors are heard. “They [survivors] must take the right steps to use proper channels to bring to book the alleged perpetrators so they can get justice and closure. Those channels will also afford the alleged perpetrators a chance to know what they are being accused of,” he said, adding that while he would not be taking any legal action, the allegations had tainted his image.

A Pietermaritzburg-born comedian also mentioned in the list said someone sent him a screenshot of the allegations day.

“People are being driven by different things. No one has come forward to lay criminal charges. Anyone can send an anonymous message to try and ruin your reputation,” said the comedian. “It’s not just ruining my reputation. I have shows lined up and I have employed people and it will impact negatively on them as well.”

A local event organiser who was also named said he was shocked. “I don’t have a comment because no one has opened a case against me. Until someone comes forward and says I sexually assaulted them, I will not entertain this,.”

Meanwhile, social media law expert Emma Sadleir said that although in some cases naming and shaming provides an effective form of retribution, it has legal repercussions.

“In the age of #MeToo and #AmINext, digital vigilantism has a very important place in modern society and can be very effective in giving a voice to the voiceless. In a world of wholly ineffective legal protections, protracted legal procedures and absurdly low prosecution and conviction rates, I totally understand victims of sexual offences not wanting to lay criminal charges,” she said.

Sadlier said while social media provided victims of sexual offences “a cost-free and often effective course of action”, the country existed by the “guilty until proven innocent” principle.

As such, the reputational consequences for the accused can be tremendous and often irreparable. “Where the allegations are untrue/embellished or unfounded, the person accused has a number of legal options available,” she added.

Those who name and shame could find themselves facing crimen injuria charges, she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  woman abuse

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