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Babes Wodumo finally takes on Mampintsha — and why many others won’t

The family spokesperson of Bongekile Simelane (aka Babes Wodumo), Sakhile Mhlonishwa Langa, has confirmed to the Mail & Guardian that Simelane opened a case of assault against Mandla ‘Mampintsha’ Maphumulo at Westville Police Station in Durban on Monday afternoon.

Langa also said that the Simelane family will hold a media briefing in Durban at 10am on Tuesday morning.

This follows Simelane’s physical assault at the hands of Maphumulo, her long-term partner, which was broadcast on an Instagram live video late on Sunday evening from Simelane’s own profile.

The video went viral after some social media users downloaded and posted it to other platforms, including Twitter and Facebook.

Public backlash

South Africans reacted with anger and frustration throughout much of Monday on social media and radio stations throughout the country with some calling for vigilante justice to be meted out against Maphumulo. Many also voiced their frustration at Simelane’s seeming inaction against her alleged abuser.

Gender-based violence researcher Lisa Vetten says that there are “complicated dependencies” which may speak to the reasons why Simelane chose to make the video public rather than going to the police initially, with the complexities of Simelane and Maphumulo’s professional and personal relationships meaning that Wodumo may see her own options as being limited. Maphumulo is credited with ‘discovering’ Simelane, and continues to produce and collaborate on her music.

“One of the things about the experiences of women in abusive relationships is that their control and decision-making is taken away from them. It is important that one understands the wishes of the woman as opposed to rushing in and saving her, and thereby reinforcing a message that they also get from their abuser which is that ‘others know better’,” says Vetten.

Police action

National police commissioner General Khehla John Sitole announced earlier that he had appointed the head of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit to investigate the alleged assault of Simelane.

Police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo said the video was being analysed “primarily to establish and verify the identities of those in the video.”

Sitole said on Monday that he had instructed his members to track down Wodumo in order to obtain a statement from her.

Political backlash

The Economic Freedom Fighters in KwaZulu-Natal chairperson, Vusi Khoza, registered a case against Mampintsha at Umlazi SAPS around midday on Monday.

“We’ve opened the case and told the police we are interested parties and this is what we’ve witnessed on social media and we would want the police to investigate,” Khoza told eNCA’s Dasen Thathiah in a video posted on Twitter.

“They did not give us any hassles, a case has been registered and been opened. They will be sending us the case number in due course. We believe that the police will take it from here and investigate and make sure that this perpetrator is arrested and dealt with accordingly,” he said, adding that he had attempted to contact Wodumo.

Speaking to TimesLIVE on Monday, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said that he would like to “take Mampintsha on” in a boxing ring.

“We must recognise that gender-based violence must be condemned, and citizens like him, a charge must be opened, and I hope on his way to jail, we can sort him out on another forum,” said Maimane.

The ANC in Gauteng released a statement, saying they were “enraged at the abhorrent violent attack”.

History of abuse

This is not the first incident of abuse that has rocked Simelane and Maphumulo’s relationship, with Metro FM personality Masechaba Ndlovu confronting Simelane about abuse claims on air in May 2018.

Speaking to eNCA on Monday, Simelane’s father Reverend Welcome Simelane said that Maphumulo has always hit his daughter. After the initial allegations of assault in 2018, Simelane had praised Maphumulo for his help in “grooming” his daughter into the artist that she is.

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Aaisha Dadi Patel
Aaisha Dadi Patel
Aaisha Dadi Patel was previously a member of the M&G’s online team. She holds an MA in Media Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand

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