Durban - THE issue of domestic violence was thrust firmly into the spotlight when a video of popular Durban singer Bongekile “Babes Wodumo” Simelane allegedly being beaten by her producer boyfriend was circulated on social media.
The video resulted from a live broadcast Simelane made on Instagram of well-known musician Mandla “Mampintsha” Maphumulo beating her at their Westville home.
There were previous reports of Maphumulo, formerly of the group Big NUZ, assaulting Simelane, who failed to report the matter to the police.
Social media expert Emma Sadleir, of The Digital Law Company, said even if Simelane did not lay charges against Maphumulo, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) could prosecute him on its own, based on the video.
Sadleir said it was dangerous to share videos without verifying their authenticity, but said this was not the case with the Simelane and Maphumulo clip.
“The likelihood in this case is that it is him; it looks like his profile and does very much look like him. After Babes opens a case, she is likely to get a conviction from the video footage. Her bravery in broadcasting it live shows she had had enough,” she said.
Sadleir said in this instance it was good to share the video content because domestic violence was involved.
“She consented to the video being shared by putting it out there herself through her own account.
“I am happy for people to share videos like this, to name and shame the perpetrator if the evidence shown in the video shows context,” she said.
Sadleir, who will give a talk on the use of social media by teenagers at Crawford High School in La Lucia this evening, said Simelane could not be pressured to charge Maphumulo, but any member of the public could lay charges based on the video.
“If this was a murder captured on video, the NPA would take action; this is no different,” she said.
However, the Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, through spokesperson Natasha Kara, said they were obligated under the Constitution to charge a person on behalf of a minor child if they felt it necessary.
“This doesn’t apply to an adult person. Secondly, the video will have to be submitted as evidence and then the presiding officer will have to decide regarding admissibility,” she said.
Simelane was removed from the couple’s Westville home on Sunday night when the artist’s friends alerted her family to the alleged assault.
Simelane, from Lamontville, and Maphumulo, from uMlazi, started dating when Simelane was in her teens.
In 2017, Maphumulo broke away from his record label, Afrotainment, and started his own, West Ink Records, to which he signed Simelane, among others.
Yesterday, Simelane thanked her fans and friends for their messages of support, but said she was unable to do any interviews because she was “still emotional about the situation”.
It said she would release a statement in due course.
Also yesterday a statement purporting to have been issued by Simelane and Maphumulo began making the rounds on social media, claiming that the abuse video was a “pre-planned domestic violence video clip” which would feature in a coming music video.
The statement adds that the video was made by both parties, was “planned thoroughly” and that “no one was hurt in the process”.
However, Simelane’s father, Reverend Welcome Simelane, dismissed the statement as a lie and called for Maphumulo to be arrested.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said as a result of the video, police were instructed to find Simelane to take a statement from her.
“A senior member from the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit has been dedicated to investigate this case, which case will be overseen by a major-general who is the national head of the same unit,” he said.
Naidoo called on Maphumulo to report to the Westville police station because the police believed he could assist them with the case.
“I cannot deny nor confirm whether Simelane has opened a case. Because she is a victim of domestic violence, I can’t further put her life at risk,” he said.