Vhahangwele Nemakonde
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
13 Oct 2017
10:24 am

Flo Masebe, Bonnie Mbuli speak on sexual harassment of SA actresses

Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Mbuli says she was called a prima donna after speaking out and reporting a man who sexually harassed women on set.

South African actress Florence Masebe presenting at the department of science and technology’s round-table discussion on the use of skin lighteners and hair straighteners in Pretoria.

Legendary SA actors Florence Masebe, Bonnie Mbuli and and Nokuthula Ledwaba have spoken up about sexual harassment of actresses in the industry, following explosive revelations of American movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s harassment in the industry.

Responding to the reports, Masebe said things would get ugly the day SA actresses opened up about sexual harassment in the industry, saying she hoped they do speak up some day.

The sad part about speaking out, according to Masebe, would be that the actresses would be attacked.

“We’d ask what they did to encourage it. We’d ask if it was an affair gone sour. We’d violate them again,” she said.

The most vulnerable to men on set were the extras, said Masebe.

“They are preyed on by all. Directors, crew and actors,” she added.

Former Rhythm actor Ledwaba also shared incidences where she was called a diva for standing up against sexual harassment on set.

Ledwaba said it was difficult for actresses to name and shame the perpetrators because the “broerskap stands together”. Those who spoke out would end up with no work and given the “difficult to work with” tag.

“These men destroy careers in a flash when an actress refuse their advances. Actresses disappear. Case closed.”

She recounted her own story of being victimised after naming and shaming a fellow actor who had sexually harassed her.

“I got the ‘difficult’ tag when I refused to work with a particular actor because he’d constantly harass me when no one was watching.

“I had reported him on many occasions, and nobody listened. I got fed up. I asked to be written out of the show. They thought I was kidding.

“I simply refused to work. They got other actors to talk me out of my madness. Stood my ground. I was ready to march to the broadcaster.

“I was feeling unsafe in our scenes together. He found opportunity in them. Poking, touching, brushing,” she said.

Another director she had worked with also said she was disrespectful after she turned him down several times.

Now Ledwaba said she had taken it upon herself to protect new actors she worked with.

“We owe it to women and girls everywhere, in all industries and spaces, to stand up for one another. Kubi [it’s bad].”

Mbuli said young women were always torn between fighting harassment or furthering their careers, also recounting how she was called names for standing up for herself.

“I was called a troublemaker, he called me all sorts of names and the production squashed it by vilifying me, curtain closed!

“The women denied it ever happening, I was hung out to dry, and they told the papers I was a prima donna and difficult to work with.

“When I was at Backstage, there was a man on set who would sexually harass the women, I spoke up and reported him, he denied it,” she said.

These actors say it was time women in the industry spoke out against these men who preyed on women.