A while back we reported on Metro FM’s shocking interview with Babes Wodumo (whose real name is Bongekile Simelane), which upset many for different reasons.
In case you missed it, it was alleged that Babes was being physically abused by ex-boyfriend and kwaito star, Mampintsha (real name Mandla Maphumulo).
These details were brought to light when DJs Masechaba Ndlovu and Mo Flava brought up the discussion during a promotional interview that was meant to focus on Babes’ new music, but became very personal and that many people felt crossed unspoken boundaries.
It also sparked debate around who gets to decide on how victims should or shouldn’t tell their own stories.
And while Mampintsha has released a statement and spoken to Metro FM about the allegations, Babes hasn’t really spoken up about that interview until now.
In an interview with TimesLive Babes confesses that she’s developed feelings of anxiety towards the media in general following that interview.
And while it’s been reported Masechaba and Mo have said that the interview could have been conducted differently, Babes has also revealed that she has yet to receive a personal apology from both of them.
This really got me thinking about ethics around how we report stories and the responsibility we have to ensure that people retain their agency when it comes to telling their stories.
When it comes to celebrities, we as the media often forget that just because celebrities acknowledge that lack of privacy comes with the territory of being famous, doesn’t mean that we’ve been given tacit permission to go beyond what they already relinquish in terms of information about their private lives.
Nothing is sacred when people stop seeing celebrities as people, but more as products to be consumed.
Just a few years back, actress Halle Berry got a bill passed preventing paparazzi from hounding the children of celebrities. This comes after they taunted her daughter while she and ex Gabriel Aubry were going through a bitter custody battle.
In Babes’ case, why did the story have to be revealed in the way it was? Because Babes adds that she was certainly not happy to see her story being laid bare to the public and adds that “everything they spoke about had nothing to do with them.”
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What was particularly galling to her is that she was never prepared for the discussion to take the direction it did because they in no way prepared her for it or asked her about it beforehand.
Well, according to Channel24, when Masechaba opened up about the interview, she actually revealed that one the day of the interview, they decided to pull back on the abuse topic because Babes was terrified.
She also admitted that the move she made despite this was both “unprofessional and risky.” And rightly so.
Yes, we do need to talk about abuse and gender-based violence, but the onus should never be on us to violate someone’s right to a) wanting their privacy, b) wanting to tell their story in their own time or c) not even wanting to tell the story at all.