In the early hours of Monday morning, gqom star Sibongekile ‘Babes Wodumo’ Simelane went live on her Instagram, put her phone down, and captured a shocking episode of physical abuse by her partner, fellow musician and producer Mandla “Mampintsha” Maphumulo.
Within a few hours the video was trending on social media with thousands, including prominent politicians such as Nathi Mthethwa, Mmusi Maimane and Fikile Mbalula expressing outrage at the video and at gender-based violence as a whole.
By Tuesday morning, Babes Wodumo had filed charges and Mampintsha had been arrested. He responded by filing counter-charges against Babes Wodumo, alleging that she had assaulted him first.
He had merely acted in self-defence, and was the real victim. I was disappointed but not surprised to see people, mostly men, rushing to his defence and claiming that male victims of domestic violence are not taken seriously.
It is worth noting that this is not the first time domestic abuse allegations against Mampintsha have been made. In late 2017, radio talk show host Masechaba Ndlovu accused Mampintsha of being physically abusive towards Babes Wodumo in a live interview she had with the gqom star. Putting the ethics of that interview aside, according to Mampintsha we should now be made to believe that Ndlovu had invented the accusation, as Sunday night was allegedly the first time he had ever laid hands on Babes Wodumo.
Mampintsha’s behaviour reminds me of a previous relationship that I was in. Whenever my partner called me degrading names such as b***h or c**t, it was supposedly my fault for upsetting him, for pushing him to that point. If I complained about the use of those terms, I was “emasculating” him and “invalidating” his feelings. On one occasion, I remember saying or doing something that he felt so insulted by that he told me he would have no choice but to “defend himself” by blowing up my car if I did it again.
While it is true that male victims of domestic violence are often not taken seriously, this is not one of those instances. Abusers often paint themselves as victims to manipulate the actual victim and any outsiders into thinking that they are the real victims of abuse and that anything they have done to their victim has been done out of self-defence or because the victim has left them no choice.
What this behaviour did was keep me in a perpetual state of confusion. I never knew if I was at best overreacting or, at worst, being abusive myself. At one point, I stopped telling my friends and family what was happening in my relationship because I had been effectively convinced that doing so was a form of abuse.
Throughout the relationship, I was constantly made to feel as though everything that had gone wrong was a result of my own bad behaviour, and that if I continued to behave “badly”, it would justify him behaving even worse. I began to live in fear, and it wasn’t until that fear became so pronounced that I struggled to concentrate on my schoolwork, that I realised I needed to get out. And I did.
So I see straight through what Mampintsha is doing. It’s what my ex did, and what countless abusers before and after him will do. And if you are one of the thousands of people watching what is happening, I have one message for you: don’t fall for it.
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