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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

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As celebrities get more litigious, they are claiming their power back

AKA. Picture: Instagram

AKA. Picture: Instagram

Published Mar 20, 2022


No, not again! That was my initial response when Cassper Nyovest took to social media last August to announce that he’d seized hosting duties for SABC1's “The Braai Show” from AKA.

AKA had spent the previous few months grieving the tragic death of his fiancée Anele Tembe and here came his long-time nemesis to seemingly put a nail in his coffin. It felt like a new low for the embattled rapper.

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Just a year prior, he had taken to Twitter to address his grievance with Reebok for not remunerating him for his collaboration on the SneAKA limited edition sneaker collection.

“Can you believe they didn’t pay me a single cent for this? … not one cent,” he shared. Reebok responded a short while later in a statement to IOL Entertainment, saying the company had executed a successful launch of the sneaker, and upon entering into the relationship, both parties were happy with the agreement and the terms were not disputed.

“Reebok met all of our contractual obligations related to the launch.

“Earlier this year, Reebok communicated with AKA and his management that due to a shift in strategy, we would not be able to renew his contract as an ambassador…However, we did discuss a new approach of working with AKA.

“Reebok is thus very disappointed to be learning of the issues raised on social media, as we believed the relationship to still be on a strong footing to negotiate potential future deals,” it said.

Following this statement, social media users were largely critical of the rapper for not apparently having his paperwork in order to avoid this mess in the first place.

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This time around, when “The Braai Show” furore began to unfold, AKA seemed determined to right the wrongs of his past.

The first step came when in September, shortly before the show was scheduled to go live, he put out a statement asserting that what had just occurred was a violation of his Partnership Agreement with Makhuducom Media.

“When I took a personal decision on May 13 to step back from public engagements and day-to-day business to heal, I personally engaged all my business partners, advising of this and my continued commitment to these partnerships.

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“Never did I foresee a partnership with such personal connections and affiliations would be one to betray me like this,” he said.

The statement went on to assert that he had tried to resolve the matter amicably through a round table discussion, but that had been unfruitful.

“Many artists have gone down the route of letting go of legal battles such as this and thus we suffer and end up with no ownership of our work... It is for that reason that I intend to continue the fight. The time has come for a new precedent to be set,” he said.

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Sbuda Roc, Nomuzi and AKA. Picture: Instagram

And continue the fight he did. After months of silence, on Monday AKA shared a statement on social media in which he revealed that he'd come out on top: "This morning, justice was finally served. I received confirmation of what I have always said: That I own The Braai Show.

“This matter for me has always been about business principles and asserting my rights to my intellectual property. It is about the injustices that continue to befall us in the creative industry and the violation of our trust by those we work with, who continue to exploit us," he wrote.

In his post, AKA thanked Molai Attorneys for their hand in this victory.

Goitsemang Randy Molai, director, Molai Attorneys, shared with IOL Entertainment that they were confident of victory from the onset: "There was no doubt in our minds about the just outcome of this matter.

“The terms of the Partnership Agreement between Makhuducom Media and AKA were clear about the respective roles, responsibilities and obligations of the Parties."

Molai went on to explain that AKA is a 50% owner of The Braai Show and the terms and conditions of the agreement between Makhuducom Media and AKA are clear on the issue of ownership.

"Artists and entertainers must not underestimate the value of recording their respective dealings in writing and making sure that they have properly drafted contracts in place.

“Obtaining sound, credible and proper legal advice can never be too expensive to protect what is rightfully yours," he said.

There is precedent for local artists roping in legal counsel and taking a stand against corporations and individuals who seek to exploit or defame their brands, and coming out victorious. “I’m going to sue you,” is no longer an empty threat.

Bonang Matheba. Picture: Instagram

Take Bonang Matheba for example. In January, IOL reported on how the media personality had won her court case against vlogger Rea Gopane, who had recklessly stated on his “Everything SA Music TV” podcast that Bonang introduced AKA to cocaine.

Bonang's victory against Rea came just a few days after American rap star Cardi B was reported to have been awarded R19 million in a federal libel lawsuit against vlogger Latasha Kebe, after a jury found the vlogger liable for defamation, invasion of privacy and causing emotional distress.

Just this week, music producer Euphonik, real name Themba Nkosi, won his court battle against poet and activist Ntsiki Mazwai in the Johannesburg High Court after a judge ordered Mazwai to pay damages, with costs, to Euphonik for making defamatory comments on social media about him.

There's a trend unravelling in front of us. Now, more than ever, our biggest stars are fiercely protecting their brands, their assets, their ownership.

It's about time.