As the court battle between poet and musician Ntsiki Mazwai and DJ Fresh (Thato Sikwane) comes to an end, the latter has issued a statement explaining why he felt “moved to take a public stand”.
This comes after Mazwai shared a Facebook post calling the DJ a rapist based on allegations levelled against him on Twitter last September during a moment that has come to be known as list-gate or ‘The List.‘ At the time, various South African women either tweeted their own experiences after having been sexually assaulted or harassed by South African men or anonymously submitted their experiences to the defunct ‘rape survivors’ Twitter account.
“As someone who has been in the entertainment industry for over two decades, I have strived to serve as a voice for, and ally of, the unheard and disaffected,” began DJ Fresh.
The DJ then acquiesced that due to his gender, he can never presume to fully understand the physical and psychological impact of gender-based violence (GBV) on women.
“However, as a son, husband and father, I feel strongly motivated to stand against GBV in every form.”
“I believe that it is long past time for us men to stop being bystanders and acknowledge that in our own silence on this issue, we are also culpable. We must take action against perpetrators of GBV and reject them and their actions. They have no place in the South African society we are working so hard to build. I recognise the desperate need for us all to shine a light on this critical issue.”
Based on the aforementioned understanding, the DJ claimed that he would never ever attempt – or desire – to silence those worthy activists who stand against all legitimate and substantiated cases of GBV.
“In fact, I endorse their actions fully. However, as Judge Spilg stated on Tuesday, ‘Being an activist comes with great responsibility’,” added the DJ in reference to the ruling on his case against Mazwai.
The ruling was handed down in the high court earlier this week by Judge Brian Splig who declared that Mazwai is to refrain from making further derogatory statements about the 947 DJ.
Despite Mazwai’s lawyers’ defence that the poet is also an activist who used her social media to reflect and comment on issues of abuse on behalf of the many victims did not have the means to defend themselves, Judge Splig still stated that Mazwai “acted irresponsibly”.
The cost order judgment in this matter is expected to be heard today.
According to DJ Fresh, social media plays an important, positive role in our information landscape, if it is used for responsible and verified discourse. GBV is an important conversation and social media is a critical platform through which many of the formerly voiceless can share their stories.
“It is a platform however, that must be used responsibly, and part of that responsibility is ensuring that what is posted is true. This is especially important if the originator of the post (even if it is something they are just retweeting or sharing) is someone with significant public profile – after all, with great credibility comes the requirement for great accountability.
“In the recent example of my quest to ensure the facts were honoured, Ntsiki Mazwai was contacted by my legal team and asked to remove her unsubstantiated posts. She declined to do so. The matter was escalated as the information posted was not only false, it was significantly, personally harmful and hurtful to me and my family. I rarely respond to false accusations because often in doing so, it provides the perpetrator with a sense of legitimacy. However, for someone to post something so damaging – especially as it directly subverts my work on behalf of a cause so close to my heart – I felt moved to take a public stand.”
The actor added that he wished for the matter “to be settled in a better and more private manner,” but added that he felt that he had no other choice than to approach the courts when Mazwai would not comply with his requests for her to take down the posts in question.
“The fight against GBV is one of the most insidious and devastating challenges our country faces. It requires us all to stand together in solidarity against the perpetrators. We cannot allow the voices of the many real and legitimate victims to be invalidated – or undermined – by the public perpetuation of false stories or unsubstantiated claims,” added the DJ.
He concluded his statement by asking that priority be placed on the on-going work to eradicate GBV “by those with the political will to mandate real change”.
“I believe that if we stand together, together we will win through to a sustainable, societal solution that builds a better South Africa for us all.”
Read the full statement below:
View this post on Instagram