Wednesday July 17, 2024

Against rape culture

By Omogolo Taunyane
March 08, 2021

In January, a Johannesburg woman publicly accused popular South African DJs Thato Sikwane, known as DJ Fresh, and Themba Nkosi, known as Euphonik, of drugging and raping her and three other women on a night out in 2011, when she was a second-year student at the University of Pretoria.

In a tweet, Siphelele Madikizela explained that she was so inebriated at the time of the alleged attack that she is not certain whether both men or just one of them raped her, and added that they both laughed about it the following morning saying that the women were so drunk they kept “blacking out”.

Both Euphonik and DJ Fresh denied the accusations, and their supporters and fans swiftly branded the alleged victim an “attention seeker” and “a liar” on social media. While the woman received some support from several activists and social media influencers, who said they believed her, many others dismissed her claims and put their support behind the two men

Despite the many attacks she faced, the victim stood by her statement and filed an official complaint against the two DJs a month later.

On February 15, South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced its decision not to prosecute the case due to insufficient evidence. The NPA decision, which was not an acquittal but an assessment that “there are no prospects of successful prosecution on the available evidence”, further emboldened the accused. They issued a joint statement celebrating the move, and doubled down on their claims that their accuser is “lying”.

This, however, is not the end of the road for the alleged victim. The NPA decision neither nullified her accusations nor ascertained the innocence of the accused men. She can still demand a review of the NPA decision or opt for private prosecution provisioned under Section 7 of the Criminal Procedures Act. Pursuing these options may create favourable conditions to secure a trial and encourage other victims to come forward to bolster the case.

Moreover, even though she did not yet succeed in bringing DJ Fresh and Euphonik in front of a judge, the woman already achieved a lot by speaking up against these two powerful figures in the entertainment industry.

Although a final assessment of the case before a court may be in the future, the accusations, and the campaign of harassment directed at the alleged victim that followed, ignited a much-needed conversation in South Africa about rape culture and its many devastating manifestations.

Many women, including myself, who are familiar with the university party scene in South Africa, did not find the woman’s account of the events that led to her alleged rape surprising.

Excerpted from: ‘South African women are taking a stand against rape culture’.