Ethics brought into question as Nomuzi IG Live staged car accident is confirmed as part of a road safety campaign

Nomuzi Mabena
Nomuzi Mabena

The media and several social media users are asking a lot of questions after local TV personality Nomuzi 'Moozlie' Mabena's car seemingly crashes during an an Instagram Live video that went viral shortly after, leaving South Africans shocked, concerned and triggered last night.

Warning: Sensitive content

According to Channel24's The Juice, Moozlie's PR team "refused to comment [on the matter], saying that a statement would be released concerning the matter." 

"Another member of Nomuzi's PR team, Kim Seneke, told The Juice they have been unsuccessful in attempts to reach the star, saying: "At this stage we're still trying to find out information." Seneke added that she had not heard from Nomuzi's family either," Channel24 reported this morning. 

READ MORE: “I was pronounced dead at the scene of my accident – but I wasn’t”

In the meantime, amidst genuine national concern about Moozlie's life and well-being, other speculations continued to be a talking point on social media - is this an Arrive Alive or Drive Dry campaign and was the fact that Nomuzi documented her whole evening all part of the act?

If this is the case (which we soon found out is), are the likes of organisations such as Drive Dry absolutely at their wit's end when they conceptualised their latest alleged shock value campaign advocating for responsible driving? Was this the last attempt at trying to get through to South Africans about their irresponsible driving habits? And has outrage marketing taken it too far? 

This morning at 7:58, Twitter user @AdvBarryRoux posted a screenshot of a campaign draft last edited in March 2018, detailing how this alleged campaign would play out. The account has since been suspended.

Screen capture from Twitter

Twitter remained divided over the crash and the consequences thereof for the better half of the day - whether real or a campaign:

Addressing the insensitive approach

The main argument that has come the fore over conflicting reports on the rapper's accident is that if this is indeed a campaign for responsible driving, it has been executed irresponsibly. 

Ever since society became vocally conscious about social issues, it seems a tactless marketing approach brands have employed is that of provoking and tugging at woke strings to gain attention for themselves. 

It's the clickbait equivalent of marketing.

Sometimes they genuinely are misguided due to lack of representation on brand teams, but more often than not, it seems intentional.

READ MORE: Massive backlash on social media over Checkers Mother's Day display

And considering road accident deaths in our country are a grave matter that has devastated many families, a media ploy such as this alleged one is in extremely bad taste. 

Yes, we have all been preaching the good word against texting and driving as well as drinking and driving. And while several drivers continue to ignore it, this approach was not the high note you were thought you were hitting at the end of the song you've been singing about safe driving.

We reached out to a SADAG trauma and mental health representative, Rutendo Shumba, who shared how the media affects individuals who suffer from PTSD.

"Post traumatic stress disorder can be the result of any terrifying incident you have experienced - from a robbery to childbirth to a car accident. You are constantly reminded of the event in your head and it even plays out in nightmares," she explains.

Rutendo says that if you have PTSD, you usually only want to acknowledge your trauma on your own terms. However, the media inadvertently breaches those terms by portraying sensitive or violent imagery to viewers; hence sensitivity warnings, which last night's video did not have. 

Being confronted with violence and emotionally distressing content in the media in a bid to "create awareness" therefore does not aid the healing process, as Rutendo notes, "it's not happening on your terms. It's on someone else's terms and that's not healing." 

She further tells us that psychologists usually recommend that their PTSD patients avoid media showing violence and crime if possible. 

"In the case where it's not possible to do so," like an IG Live video of a celebrity you follow, "cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is prescribed. It helps you become desensitised to what is triggering you." 

Government facilities do not offer CBT, so only those who have the funds for it have access to it.

For those who are not yet desensitised and are usually empathetic, as was seen through the #PrayforNomuzi hashtag, publicity stunts of this or a similar nature have a great potential to numb the more you get exposed to them. 

As Rutendo observes, "daily news already desentise a lot of people and reduces one's level of empathy," so content displaying car accidents and other gruesome events is bound to heighten your inability to empathise.

Mass apathy would yield the opposite of the intended outcome of responsible driving and other social justice campaigns, so the mind boggles at how shock tactics seem to be considered most effective. 


Nomuzi announced this afternoon that the video was produced in partnership with VW and the Drive Dry initiative as a way to encourage sober driving habits in 2019. 

Volkswagen SA also confirmed the campaign on their Twitter account and the #VWDriveDry hashtag has already gained traction on social media with a number of mixed feelings and criticism. 

What has the internet even more upset is how in the official ad, VW shows their numbers and social media reactions - genuine concerns of supporters - to boast of how "successful" the campaign rollout was. 

We understand social media is one of the most impactful tools to get through to our generation, but to say this was insensitive would be an understatement.

We will update with further comment from Drive Dry, VW and Nomuzi.

* This article was updated to reflect the confirmation that the car crash was staged.

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