This week, he High Court in Johannesburg has heard that poet and activist Ntsiki Mazwai acted irresponsibly when she posted on social media that radio personality DJ Fresh was a rapist.

In a series of posts on social media networking platform Twitter, Mazwai claimed that the DJ was a rapist while referencing another post on Facebook in which other alleged perpetrators of sexual violence were mentioned.

Now, DJ Fresh has released a statement condemning Mazwai’s actions and claims. “As someone who has been in the entertainment industry for over two decades, I have strived to serve as a voice for, and ally of, the unheard and disaffected. I know also, that as a man I can never presume to fully understand the physical and psychological impact of Gender Based Violence (GBV) on women. However, as a son, husband and father, I feel strongly motivated to stand against GBV in every form,” the DJ says.

“I believe that it is long past time for us men to stop being bystanders and acknowledge that in our own silence on this issue, we are also culpable. We must take action against perpetrators of GBV and reject them and their actions – they have no place in the South African society we are working so hard to build. I recognise the desperate need for us all to shine a light on this critical issue,” DJ Fresh continues. “It is for this reason that I would never ever attempt – or desire – to silence those worthy activists who stand against all legitimate and substantiated cases of GBV. In fact, I endorse their actions fully. However, as Judge Spilg stated on Tuesday, “Being an activist comes with great responsibility”. Social media plays an important, positive role in our information landscape, if it is used for responsible and verified discourse. GBV is an important conversation and social media is a critical platform through which many of the formerly voiceless can share their stories.”

The rest of the statement reads:

“It is a platform however, that must be used responsibly, and part of that responsibility is ensuring that what is posted is true. This is especially important if the originator of the post (even if it is something they are just retweeting or sharing) is someone with significant public profile – after all, with great credibility comes the requirement for great accountability.

In the recent example of my quest to ensure the facts were honoured, Ntsiki Mazwai was contacted by my legal team and asked to remove her unsubstantiated posts. She declined to do so. The matter was escalated as the information posted was not only false, it was significantly, personally harmful and hurtful to me and my family. I rarely respond to false accusations because often in doing so, it provides the perpetrator with a sense of legitimacy. However, for someone to post something so damaging – especially as it is directly subverts my work on behalf of a cause so close to my heart – I felt moved to take a public stand.

I would certainly have wished for this matter to be settled in a better and more private manner, however, when the falsehoods were not rescinded, I felt my only option was to take it before the due diligence of our court system.

The fight against GBV is one of the most insidious and devastating challenges our country faces. It requires us all to stand together in solidarity against the perpetrators. We cannot allow the voices of the many real and legitimate victims to be invalidated – or undermined – by the public perpetuation of false stories or unsubstantiated claims.

The work to eradicate GBV is a battle still being hard fought by many, and what we must ensure is that it continues to be given priority by those with the political will to mandate real change. I may be a small voice in this storm, but I have always been, and remain, committed to playing my part as we work together to create a country that is safe for all our women and children. I believe that if we stand together, together we will win through to a sustainable, societal solution that builds a better South Africa for us all.”

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