SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng must apologise for his interpretation of a Venda ritual at which he thought he was being offered a wife, the Democratic Alliance said on Monday.
“The patriarchal and sexist assumptions in Motsoeneng’s actions and handling of this issue are deeply worrying,” the DA’s Women’s Network leader, Denise Robinson, said in a statement.
“It should be inconceivable to Motsoeneng that a woman could be ‘offered’ to him.”
The Sowetan reported last Friday that traditional Venda chiefs gave Motsoeneng a wife, a cow and a calf during his visit to their area.
About 10 bare-breasted women were lined up in Thohoyandou, Limpopo last Wednesday, and Motsoeneng was asked to choose one. He picked 22-year-old human resources management student Vanessa Mutswari.
She was pictured in the newspaper standing bare-breasted next to Motsoeneng, behind a trailer onto which the cow and calf and been loaded.
On Monday, the newspaper quoted Motsoeneng saying in an SABC 2 news bulletin two weeks ago that he had received the gift.
Motsoeneng reportedly said in Sesotho: “Ba mphile mofumahadi [they gave me a wife].”
On Sunday, Mutswari spoke to reporters in Johannesburg where she said she was engaged to be married to someone else and that the 13 June report in the Sowetan was not true.
“I’m saying with my own mouth, I was not given to anybody,” Mutswari said through an interpreter.
“That is not Venda tradition. I’m proud of what I am and my culture. I was not half-naked. It’s a shedo [Tshivenda traditional attire]. I will continue wearing it.”
She said the report had caused problems for her and almost destroyed her pending marriage.
Mutswari said life would go on despite the article and she would talk to her husband-to-be about it.
Robinson on Monday said Motsoeneng’s actions were detrimental to women’s rights and equality.
“The idea that a woman can be ‘offered’ for marriage as a commodity is fundamentally contradictory to the democratic values enshrined in our Constitution,” she said. “Motsoeneng’s initial explanation that the ceremony was not serious does not wash.” — Sapa