Home News Zamani tweet sparks outcry

Zamani tweet sparks outcry

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An anonymous post accuses the NC premier of raping her and then later allegedly forcing her to have an abortion.

The Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul.

A BOMB exploded after Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul was accused of raping a woman and then later allegedly forcing her to have an abortion, in a post on Twitter yesterday.

The tweet, by user DBN_Survivors, was posted at about 10.30am on Wednesday morning.

The user DBN_Survivors has more than 17 000 followers and contains anonymous posts from women sharing the names, photos and stories of men who allegedly raped or sexually assaulted them. 

A disclaimer on the user profile states that “all stories shared (by the user) are anonymous and that stories are not vetted”. 

“We trust the woman on here to be fully honest,” the disclaimer further reads.

The post referring to Saul states the following: “This is the man who raped me – a well-known politician. I was still a small kid who used to wear a school uniform. (I) knew nothing about sex. He would force himself onto me and even made me abort his child. I’m not the only victim. (There) are (many) schoolgirls he did this to and one is even raising his daughter currently. This man is trash. His names are Zamani Saul.”

By yesterday afternoon the tweet had been retweeted more than 60 times.

The tweet comes in the wake of a massive national outcry against gender-based violence following the brutal murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana.
Various advocacy groups and student organisations rallied together yesterday to stage protests around Parliament and outside the World Economic Forum on Africa to address gender-based violence (GBV).

Saul’s office yesterday described the Twitter handle as “disgusting and malicious”.

“The Office of the Premier has noted with disgust the malicious and deceitful Twitter handle @Dbn_Survivors that alleges to expose perpetrators of gender-based violence through false claims, where the premier, Dr Zamani Saul, is also being implicated. This comes at a time in our country when we are facing the scourge of violence against women and children. Dr Saul has always been an ardent advocate for the rights of women, and more specifically the rights of children, and the disgusting allegations are dismissed with the urgency and contempt they deserve. We therefore firmly believe that this is a lousy attempt to denigrate the integrity of the premier,” the spokesperson for the Office of the Premier, Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams, said.

She added that Saul had already referred the specific tweet and Twitter handle to the relevant law enforcement agencies for investigation and further action.

“We remain resolute in our fight against gender-based violence and such distractions will not deter us,” Thomas-Abrahams said.

The ANC in the Northern Cape also reacted with outrage following the post.

“The ANC in the Northern Cape has noted with disgust the Twitter handle @Dbn_Survivors, which purports to be exposing alleged perpetrators of gender-based violence. In the mentioned handle, the provincial chairperson of the ANC, Dr Zamani Saul, is alleged to have abused an unnamed victim. The scourge of gender-based violence and the abuse of children is a national crisis and efforts to fight it should never be undermined by false allegations that seek to discredit and cast aspersions on the integrity of the provincial chairperson,” provincial ANC spokesperson Naledi Gaosekwe said.

She added that the ANC Provincial Executive Committee, under the leadership of Saul, viewed violence against women and children in a very serious light and supported all efforts by government and civil society organisations to fight the scourge.

“We have encouraged the provincial chairperson to explore all available legal means to expose those faceless people running such malicious campaigns. We will not be deterred in our task of forging unity and building the organisation,” Gaosekwe said.

Meanwhile, William Bird, director of Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), was quoted as saying that pages outing alleged rapists could spell bad news for survivors and administrators.

“Your rights and your legal obligations don’t change just because you go onto a social media page,” he said. It might be harder to track some of the people there but certainly, if the police have the interest, they could pursue that,” Bird was quoted as saying.

He added that the accused people had every right to pursue charges of criminal defamation.

In addition, he said that while people were outraged at the levels of gender-based violence in the country, and justifiably so, “these kinds of responses aren’t going to deal with the problem”, especially in terms of prosecuting alleged rapists.

Bird cautioned that it wouldn’t just be the social media accounts that are implicated.

“If the purpose (of this) is to simply expose them and defame them, they need to be very careful about doing those things precisely because that person may very well bring legal action against that account and anyone else that retweets it, that posts it, that comments on it may equally be liable legally speaking.”
This was regardless of whether or not the accused were guilty, he said.

Bird added that he was unsure about how exposing people dealt with the wider problem of gender-based violence in the country.

Going through the judicial process can be extremely traumatising, he said, but alleged perpetrators would likely know who accused them should their names pop up on social media.

“Unless they’re guilty of raping a number of women, they will probably know who it is that put their name there and that won’t result in a positive outcome,” he warned.

Bird added that it was unlikely to have a positive effect on those accused, who were most likely already violent, to change their ways.

He said that the accounts should be wary of spreading information before checking its authenticity and accuracy, saying “it’s a very risky thing to be doing”.

The ANC Youth League has also condemned the “sensationalist” accusations levelled against Saul.

ANCYL provincial secretary Xhanti Teki dismissed the tweet as “sensationalism by some deluded individual on social media, who has taken it upon themselves to cast a diabolic cloud over the ANC provincial chairperson, Dr Zamani Saul”. 

“False allegations against anyone of such a heinous crime are more than just damaging to the individuals themselves, but seek to undermine the daily horror of many women in South Africa, who remain powerless and at the mercy of predators. It is an act as immoral as it is degenerative,” Teki said.