Rosie Motene's #MeToo statement

Rosie Motene
Rosie Motene

You can read the full story of all the women who have come forward with #MeToo claims of predatory sexual encounters with acclaimed film maker Khalo Matabane here.

I have known Khalo for a few years. He started his initial contact through my LinkedIn private message page. His first communication was saying that he was in town, being JHB for a while and there was a meeting with a few filmmakers in JHB. I went thinking that it would lead to possible work. It was a pleasant event as there were other people who attended. 

We met at a restaurant in Melville. After that Khalo left a few messages but nothing hectic. There was one time when he asked me to collect him from the airport and I objected as I thought it was a bit presumptuous to ask of me as I hardly knew him. I thought it was presumptuous as asking somebody to collect you from the airport, is a rather far drive for somebody to ask of a stranger. I did not see anything sexual, as to be honest I thought he was homosexual and therefore I felt safe. Then at DIFF 2012. I was on the jury for feature films.

On many occasions in the evening filmmakers would get together and have drinks, network etc. One evening we were walking back to our hotels, a group of us had had a few drinks and were jovial and happy. At some point Khalo and I had linked arms. He asked me to come up to his room to watch his Mandela documentary. As I was tired and had to wake early the next day, I declined and said that I would come the following day. He held me again and kissed me goodbye, once again I felt safe.

The next day I went to his hotel and room and watched inserts on his documentary, I think it was about 3 to 5 minutes. At this point I sat at the hotel desk watching the inserts on his laptop. The he asked if I wanted a cappuccino. Unfortunately the room service was taking long. I then felt a little uncomfortable as he sat on the bed and asked if I wanted to sit with him, that point my intuition told me that I was in fact wrong regarding his sexuality and that perhaps he was heterosexual, I also felt that I was no longer safe and immediately left.

A day or two after that, a group of us are still in Durban and we ordered bunny chows, which I think Khalo paid for. After that he then said to me that my attitude towards him had changed and called me a cock teaser, as he believed I had led him on. Perhaps I should have told him that I thought he was a homosexual but decided to dismiss it as I automatically saw him as irrational. I saw him again in Nigeria at the film festival but always ensured I was never alone.

On Zabalaza

In 2015 I decided to go back to acting after a long period of time. I was cast in a TV show for a prominent production house. On our first script-reading my character read as being rather sexual and there were a number of sex scenes. I then spoke to the director afterwards and he said that the script would be rewritten as the scene were too graphic. I told my then agent the same concerns and she reassured me that I did not have to perform any sexual acts or perform naked as I did not agree to that in the contract.

The shoot date arrived and the scripts had not changed. I told my agent and she said not to worry I should speak to the director on the day. Fortunately the director on the day was a woman and was just as surprised at the fact that I had not had a meeting with the producers regarding the sex scenes. Wardrobe arrived and the lingerie was too revealing and see-through and would have exposed my nipples. I refused to wear it. I performed a few of the scenes about then began to felt very uncomfortable as the crew made sexual innuendos and comments, and I felt that to be rude and compromising.

After that I told my agent that I would not wear lingerie or perform in any bedroom scene whatsoever. I requested proper wardrobe fittings so the incident was never repeated. They obliged but I was never asked to fit lingerie again. Then a few weeks later, the same lingerie was sent to set. This time we were shooting in Pretoria, which was far from the production house. The wardrobe person sent the same piece of lingerie to set, thinking that I would not have a choice and be forced to wear it.

I refused to wear it and then had to wear my own clothing on set and charged them for the items. I continued to relay my points of concern to my agent who said she had spoken to the producer and that they understand and that all would be rectified. Whilst on set I also witnessed how younger actresses were being treated. As they were new they did not want to speak up. The three major concerns were:

* One actress had to perform a sex scene on the balcony in a public location. The actress had agreed to do the scene. The scene was set on a public location. There was no closed set and after the scene, there was no wardrobe to dress her. She then had to walk across set in her G-string.

* Another incident was when a director asked another actress to perform the scene in her bra. His excuse was ‘we need to get the ratings up’.

* The third was two young actors performed a sex scene and I walked in and realised that the set was not closed.

I set up a meeting with the producer of the show with my agent. On arrival the producer asked me if I had informed them that I did to want to perform naked or perform sexual scenes. I reminded him that the contract that he gave me, stated that I did not have to. In fact I had received assistance from SAGA and I knew my rights. He then reassured me that all will be well and that there will no longer be sex scene written into my storyline.

Two days later I received a script where my character had to perform a sex scene. I called my agent and reminded her of the meeting. She called back and said that she spoke to the same producer and he said I should get used to it as my character was crazy and the scenes were called for. This infuriated me. My agent then said that I should not speak out too much as I will not be able to work in the industry again. This was a major warning sign for me. I consulted SAGA once again.

The day came to shoot that scene, the director on set was a male and he reassured me that I would not need to take off my clothes. We agreed that I would wear a jacket over my clothes and that the male actor would remove that and that we would just kiss. I agreed. We performed that scene then the director said that needed to move closer and I should get into bed and they would give me a boob tube to wear. I refused as that was not was agreed upon. The crew also felt that I should just get naked under the covers. I found this incredibly unprofessional as crew do not have the right to direct or comment on the actors decisions.

We performed the scene with me fully clothed.

After that I went home and resigned, stating all the previous grievances in detail. Unfortunately whilst this was going on, I had discovered a lump in my left breast. I informed production that I needed emergency surgery. I chose to have the surgery during the production break so it would not interfere with the production schedule. I said that should I need chemotherapy, I would inform them but until then my illness did to affect production.

After my resignation, I did not receive any notification or comments from production.

Then as my contract was running its course, I get an call from the PR people from the channel asking if I had resigned. I was rather surprised as my resignation had been sent quite a while back. I then asked her why she was confused and I sent her the resignation letter that I sent production. I called my agent and she told me that her and the producer took it upon themselves to lie to the channel and use my illness as the excuse. I was furious as I had not given them permission to discuss my illness. I the called a meeting with the channel, producer and SAGA so we could get everyone on the table. On hearing the truth the channel automatically apologised, as they have strict gender quality policies in place.

A few days after that meeting, I bumped into another producer and I was blamed for the transpiring. I realised that the production company were never sorry they were just upset as I had revealed there truth. I went public on the matter without naming the producers. I was astonished to see the number of messages from other actresses. They contacted me through my private messages and did not wasn’t to be named. They automatically named the producer in question and said they endured the same but were too scared to speak up, one was even fired. They thanked me for standing up and speaking out.

A few weeks later another producer from the company called to ask if I could come back for a few scenes, I refused as I knew that their apology was insincere and I did to feel safe on their set.

A few months later the channel cancelled their contract. An actor and an actress informed me that when the production manager told them that the series would not continue, he said in these words: ‘You can thank Rosie for losing your jobs’.

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