Johannesburg - Business tycoon Romeo Kumalo and his television producer wife Basetsana are laying criminal charges against popular novelist Jackie Phamotse over a controversial tweet about allegations related to a rimming sex tape that Phamotse shared last week, even though the tweet didn’t name them.
City Press can reveal that a certain Ronnie McKenzie also faces a charge of crimen injuria for allegedly sharing Phamotse’s tweet, which went viral on social media last week.
The couple’s lawyer, Emma Sadleir, said the charges were to be laid at the Midrand Police Station yesterday morning. She told City Press that, although Phamotse had not named the Kumalos in her tweet, an indirect reference was made to them, including by those who commented on her post. This, she said, was unlawful.
In her Twitter post, Phamotse wrote: “Just over heard a painful conversation, a Female TV mogul....Pleading with one of my girls to not share videos of her drunk and her husband [sic] rimming a celebrity boy!!!!!!!!! What the hell!!!! Kanti what kind of marriages do we have now!!! I have asked to see this video.”
Sadleir said McKenzie first shared a screenshot of Phamotse’s tweet on a WhatsApp group he is an administrator of.
Contacted for a comment, Phamotse said: “I don’t know why they would open a case because I never named anyone in all my tweets, on any social media or in interviews. Other people may have, I didn’t. I can’t control other people’s social media. Why don’t they open cases against the people who named them and made memes about them? I never even retweeted anyone who did that. The police haven’t called me or anything. And why would she [Basetsana] assume it’s her if they’ve got nothing to hide? Is she the only TV mogul in South Africa? I can think of a number – Carol Bouwer, Connie Ferguson, Harriet Gavshon, Patience Stevens, Desiree Markgraaff. They’re not opening cases. I hope they don’t name me in their statement, else I’ll have to take action against them.”
McKenzie said he had no knowledge of the tweet and had nothing to do with it.
The Kumalos yesterday issued a strongly worded statement following the social-media frenzy. The couple said the video did not exist and that allegations against them were “false and defamatory”. They were seeking legal counsel to pursue charges of crimen injuria and obtain a protection order against those who published the content. In addition, they would lay a complaint with Independent Media’s ombudsman after a daily newspaper reported on the matter.
They said they had identified an unnamed author as a source of the allegations – later revealed to be Phamotse – and had not met or had any dealings with her.
“We can only deduce, for reasons which remain unclear, that the motivation behind these unfounded and salacious rumours was nothing but pure malice, and perhaps an attempt by the author to create publicity and boost her book sales,” the statement reads.
They said the past week had been the “most difficult” of their lives.
“The harm caused on a personal, emotional and professional level has been immeasurable. Moreover, the malicious spreading of fictitious rumours has caused enormous emotional harm to our children – who we have always tried to keep out of the public spotlight.”
The couple said it had been difficult to remain silent and not respond emotionally to some of the “incredibly painful statements loosely thrown around” about their personal lives.
“Our silence thus far has not been because there is any merit or truth in these allegations – but simply because we have been so deeply shocked and hurt by the salacious content and manner in which it has been recklessly shared and spread. But today is when we break the silence. We feel it is our duty to take a stand – both against the specific individuals involved in spreading these baseless allegations about us and, more broadly, against all those keyboard warriors who so swiftly jump on the bandwagon to share harmful content about others – without considering the long-term harm that this can cause.
“It is my hope that, in taking a public stand against this type of malicious and reckless behaviour, we will send a strong message to all those who regularly and carelessly share false and harmful information about others without fact-checking or considering the tremendous harm to be caused on a personal, professional and reputational level,” they said in their statement.
It concluded by thanking those who stood by them.