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MusicSex & Gender

gqom star posts video of abuse to expose abuser

March 6, 2019
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South African Gqom sensation Bongekile Simelane (Babes Wodumo) sent South Africans into an uproar over the domestic abuse she endures at the hands of her boyfriend/manager Mandla Maphumulo (known as Mampintsha) when she had her Instagram live recording, exposing a triggering display of physical assault reported Times Live. This unfiltered and disturbing evidence of a long-standing open secret in South African music brought the country to a standstill as frustration over the Simelane’s safety, poor attitudes and poor structures protecting victims of domestic abuse took the spotlight in discussions all week.

Simelane’s abuse was made public against her will last year during an interview with radio personality Masechaba Ndlovu. The radio host blindsided the musician with questions regarding rumors of her abuse, placing the singer in a dangerous position with Maphumulo. Ndlovu’s callous use of Simelane’s dangerous situation to “drive a conversation” that would ultimately boost ratings without any recourse that would ensure the singer’s safety had many online furious at the radio host.

Maphumulo has known Simelane since she was 16, going on to manage and control the singer’s career and income. Simelane’s young age and the growing narrative of abuse around the relationship speaks to a strong possibility of grooming. The story of the young talented singer and the overbearing manager is a worn-out one in an industry rife with exploitation of young talent — specifically, the exploitation of younger female talent by older men in the industry.

Simelane was eventually able to open up a case against her abuser at a police station where he claimed he bribed officers, but a warrant for his arrest was issued, resulting in a lackluster manhunt by the South African Police Service. Maphumulo was arrested, and in a plot twist befitting the gross manipulation of an abuser, he opened up a countersuit against Simelane, going as far as to show up for court in not one, but two moon boots. He claims that the physical abuse displayed in the video was self-defense against his girlfriend, who is shown to be half his size — we’ll see if that claim and his obvious theatrics will hold up in court.

Maphumulo was granted bail worth R2000 (equivalent to $140) speaking to staggering inefficacy of the South African justice system when it comes to gender-based violence. The hashtag #MuteMampintsha has been trending online since the video went live. The South African public hope that the hashtag will help bring him to justice the way #MuteRKelly finally got the singer indicted on multiple charges of sleeping with minors. The rallying of the country behind Simelane has reopened an underserved conversation on domestic violence, specifically in the music industry where men wield power over the career and resources of talents like Babes Wodumo.

What the country wants to see now is her abuser brought to justice and her ties to him severed so she may be safe from future abuse and free to thrive as her own artist. She got on the Black Panther soundtrack — hopefully, with the right support, she’ll be just fine.