Venda porn thieves dismissed

As director general of the department of arts and culture Themba Wakashe earned a reputation as Mr Fixit. (M&G, Oupa Nkosi)

As director general of the department of arts and culture Themba Wakashe earned a reputation as Mr Fixit. (M&G, Oupa Nkosi)

The Film and Publication Board (FPB) has dismissed two employees after they tried to steal an unclassified pornographic movie, the organisation said on Tuesday.

“Their case was finalised in August, and they were dismissed at the beginning of this month for trying to steal a copy of the film,” spokesperson Sipho Risiba said.

The two, Thomas Nndwa and Roger Moshapo, were caught on a CCTV camera trying to steal a copy of the Venda pornographic movie Bush Pie 3. The film is yet to be released to the public by the FPB.

Risiba could not comment on whether the process to classify the film was completed and when it would be released to the public.

The Venda pornographic film, produced by Zwoluga Madega, reportedly drew criticism this year from religious leaders and the Venda community.

The film was shot in Manyuwa, Venda, with the cast wearing traditional Venda attire.

‘Must have integrity’
The Mail & Guardian last month reported on FPB chief executive Themba Wakashe’s clean-up mission since he was appointed to the sometimes messy FPB in December 2013. The Venda pornographic movie thieves are among about six other employees to have faced disciplinary action since Wakashe’s arrival.

The FPB is tasked in part with classifying certain media intended for distribution in South Africa, including local and international films and even video games.
This includes pornographic films, which are then distributed or shown by the likes of Adult World sex shops and some television stations.

The FPB’s classifiers, about 40 in all, take it in turns to watch pornographic films to assign it the necessary rating and ensure it does not transgress any laws. But watching porn for a living isn’t the lark some may imagine.

“Most of the time people are curious about watching porn,” Wakashe said. “But it is actually the most challenging aspect of our professional lives because you cannot watch and classify porn without it affecting you. People have to get debriefing sessions – a form of therapy.”

The FPB has security measures in place to prevent films and other media from being stolen, said Wakashe.

One of the employees who allegedly tried to steal the Venda porn flick “tried his best to manipulate the system”, said Wakashe, but was caught out.

“And now we had to act because the process of classification must have integrity,” he said, pointing out that producers trusted the FPB to protect their material and prevent copyright infringements.

Abuse of state resources
It would be particularly ironic as the FPB is also tasked with policing the distribution of illegally reproduced movies. Wakashe says one of the problems he faced when he started the job were monitors who were assigned to the job making off with the board’s cars.

“They were going all over Southern Africa, going everywhere else except where they were supposed to be,” he said. There were other indiscretions, which resulted in disciplinary hearings and suspensions. “It’s people doing silly things like claiming qualifications they don’t have and allegations of people colluding here and there, and just mismanagement and abuse of the organisation’s assets.”

The idea is anathema to him. “People must know abuse of state resources will never be tolerated.”

Of the other disciplined employees, one was dismissed after being found guilty for misrepresenting their qualifications. This was detected through a credential verification process that Wakashe introduced. Another employee was suspended after abusing organisational assets and “failing to relocate to where he was assigned”.

Two employees were suspended pending an investigation for collusion with a service provider and conflict with supply chain management procedures, and contravention of the FPB fraud prevention plan.

A fifth employee faced disciplinary hearings for failing to comply with the requirements of classification at an external viewing venue, where there was a breach of the policy of disallowing external influences. She was found to be not guilty and is still employed.

Mr Fixit
Wakashe joined the department of arts and culture in 1996 as a chief director and worked his way up to director general, a post he held from 2007 to 2010.

During his time at the helm, he earned a reputation as Mr Fixit, steering the department towards unqualified audits. He admits he made mistakes, and some artists took him to task for being too aloof. But his personal obsession seems to be integrity.

“I worked in the department of arts and culture for almost 15 years. I still pride myself that I went there clean and I left the department clean.” – Sapa and M&G reporter

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