Cape Town – Viewer fury has engulfed M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) channel over the TV show Our Perfect Wedding.
Shocked viewers have slammed the show calling it a "disgusting shame" for "romanticising rape culture".
The barrage of complaints comes as the M-Net channel aired the last two episodes – this past Sunday's one taking things even further than the previous Sunday - proudly glamourising a groom who told of how he met his wife when she was just 14 and preyed on young girls.
While the Sexual Offences Act has defined that it is no longer a criminal act for children between the ages of 12 and 15 to engage in sexual activity with each other, it is still completely illegal and repugnant for an adult to prey on a 14 year-old. In this case a 28 year-old man who proudly brags about sexing underage school children.
Mzansi Magic has now said it is pulling all repeats of the specific Our Perfect Wedding episode that’s also made available on MultiChoice’s DStv Catch Up video-on-demand service and pushed to subscriber’s decoders.
Our Perfect Wedding showed the groom telling viewers how he sexed school children as a 28-year old taxi driver and how his now wife had to compete for his attention. On the shows official Facebook page it said bride Bavelile – as if she was in a reality show – “has outwitted, outplayed and outlasted all the women vying for Fanie’s affections".
(Screengrab: Our Perfect Wedding Mzansi/Facebook)
Our Perfect Wedding, produced by Connect TV owned by Basetsana Kumalo of SABC3's Top Billing fame, stoked the fires of viewers' discontent in the middle of the national 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse campaign.
At least once complaint has been formally laid with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) over Our Perfect Wedding and Absa abruptly pulled its sponsorship of the show on Monday.
"We have withdrawn our sponsorship of Our Perfect Wedding with immediate effect. We have informed Mzansi Magic," says Byron Kennedy, Absa's head of media.
In a statement the Change Drivers' Network and the Sexual Reproductive Justice Coalition of South Africa slams Mzansi Magic and Connect TV, saying; "considering the rate of sexual abuse in South Africa, it is disturbing to note how Our Perfect Wedding normalises this behaviour and turned it into a love story.
"It is unacceptable and as young leaders who deal with such issues every day, the ACTIVATE! Network demands that action be taken in this regard.
"Rape culture is so normalised and in a country like ours with the type of statistics around rape and gender based violence it is highly disturbing what we were shown on Mzansi Magic," says dr Tlaleng Mofokeng.
'Paedophiles rewarded with Mzansi Magic show'
"Perverts and self-confessed paedophiles get rewarded with a TV show on Mzansi Magic and nobody in the production saw anything wrong with the narrative. We are meant to be standing up for women and children who are abused. How is this episode in anyway assisting with this? How is this empowering to black women and children to stand up for what is right?
"When we air shows that use content of rape and rape culture as entertainment we spit on the face of the law and people who are abused," says Mofokeng.
Mzansi Magic didn't respond to specific questions regarding Our Perfect Wedding in a media request from Channel24.
The channel did post a notice on its website saying it would “like to apologise for airing the segment that has upset our viewers".
The statement goes on to say that the channel takes the concerns of viewers seriously and that the M-Net provided channel to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform has “taken the decision not to broadcast the episode again".
A few hours earlier on Monday afternoon Mzansi Magic's publicity division issued a tepid, general statement, saying Mzansi Magic "note and acknowledge the concerns from our viewers regarding the Our Perfect Wedding episode" and that the programme's premise is to "celebrate love and the journey that couples take".
While Mzansi Magic initially sold and marketed Our Perfect Wedding to viewers as kasi escapism and light entertainment, the M-Net channel is trying to put a documentary spin on it, saying "our reality shows reflect society as it is”.
“In the case of this episode, the couple's past brought up uncomfortable social issues which the family and community who were initially against the relationship, found a way to resolve".
Mzansi Magic says "we are committed to telling stories that impact our viewers and build our communities whilst challenging society". Mzansi Magic says the channel doesn't "condone any unlawful behaviour".
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