When "No Excuse, Pay Papgeld" rolled around last February, I wondered if we would be exposed to be yet another melodramatic, unrealistic reality show. Thankfully, the opposite seems to have happened.
Over the phone, presenter Moss Makwati is just like he is on screen. Perhaps he has mastered the ability to be polite, highly energetic and approachable.
When the Moja Love (DStv Channel 157) show came around, he’d been in the television industry, albeit in various roles spanning over a decade. Since starring in Papgeld, he has earned himself the nickname “the sheriff of papgeld”.
The experience has taught him that what he does is not just entertainment. The show provides a platform for a disgruntled parent to ask their co-parent why they are not paying child support. As you can imagine, a confrontation of this sort can get messy.
Makwati and his crew have demonstrated that they have the ability to defuse a tense situation. Sometimes they are not so lucky.
“Last time (early December 2018) we did a confrontation at a wedding, we nearly lost our lives. We were attacked by a mob, which got hold of one of the crew members. By the grace of God, he was not critically injured. It could have been worse.”
Makwati said that thinking of his work in ministry helped.
“I’m someone who’s faithful. I pray every day for about an hour. I understand that over and above me presenting it, this is my ministry. I have to pray for the participants. I have to pray for our journey ahead. Had it not been for my faith, I wouldn’t be able to do this.”
The show has been criticised for featuring only black men, as if they were the only perpetrators. Besides the challenge of getting people from other walks of life to open up, Makwati said his conscience as a black brother would not allow him to be part of something that demonised black men.
He said “papgeld” was a universal problem.
“I can understand where that comes from. But that is why we’re constantly looking for male stories. But we have had instances where men have written to us, but an hour before we’re meant to shoot, they pull out because of embarrassment or shame, fearing that people will respond badly. Papgeld is not a male-bashing platform.”
Makwati said he and his crew took their roles seriously, even though they pushed the boundaries.
“We have the best legal representation in the world. We understood that there are risks involved in a show of this magnitude. We are not out to defame anyone. We always protect their rights. We know we’re covered but we must still protect the father and the mother because they are the parents of these children.”
The show has introduced a KZN leg, which proves just how popular it has become.
And while the show might make for entertaining viewing, we can only hope it touches the lives of its participants for the better.
"No Excuse, Pay Papgeld" airs every Saturday at 6:30pm on Moja Love DStv Channel 157.