Dear South Africa
We apologize sincerely for our distasteful and insensitive comments and would especially like to extend our apologies to anyone who has ever gone through the horror of rape. There is little excuse for our words and the careless manner in which they were delivered. We do not condone any form of violence against women, or against anyone for that matter. We also understand that our comments came at a particularly terrible time in light of the Zozo corrective rape case – which brought to light the utter depravity of the society we live in now – and for that we are, once again, sorry. We believe that the use of force against anyone who is unable to defend themselves is perhaps the worst crime that can be committed and should not escape the harshest means of prosecution.
The media madness that was unleashed over the posting of our private – and do keep in mind that it was private, with all Facebook privacy settings set to ‘friends only’ – conversation was surreal in the sense that it received a lot more attention, social media reach and established media buzz than actual cases of rape. We struggle to recall quite as much of a public outcry over the Zozo case itself – Twitter didn’t rage and Gareth Cliff hardly made wisecracks about it. And that is an issue we cannot help but raise.
“Sick people” we were called by the hordes on Twitter. Yes, we are sick people, sick children of a sick country that refuses to acknowledge and deal with its diseases. Throughout our writing careers we have always attacked issues head on, not mincing words and not being afraid to offend for what we believe in. While the Facebook comments in question were indeed insensitive and misguided, there is one thing that we do want to ask you, the zealous and public crusaders for justice: how violently did you tweet and scream and rage when actual rape cases happened? Did you contribute to charities that deal with this horror? Did you volunteer to help? Did you retweet with the same fervor? Our money is on the fact that 95% percent of you did nothing.
It becomes very evident to us that in our perverted country, where a woman is raped every couple of seconds and the President stood trial on a rape case, no one is actually prepared to face the real horror. The country reacts to misguided and private jest with a public witch hunt, with name-calling and demonizing, because the country will sleep better that night knowing that it did something about the rape crisis. And in the morning, the rape will go on, the rapists will walk free, the media will remain indifferent, but the country will feel better because the real dirt is now under the carpet. If we can’t make light of the horror, how are we supposed to deal with it?
The fact that our private joke eclipsed other content on South Africa’s media outlets, the fact that we trended above Mandela for the day, points to a problem far greater. The media, which has fanned the flames of this witch-hunt, has barely bothered to contact us personally for any kind of comment. Only the Sowetan and 2Oceansvibe Radio showed any interest in putting across a balanced point of view. Why would they though? They got their scapegoats – two guys have been publicly lynched for engaging with a taboo subject in their private capacity. Both of us, in our careers as writers, have always engaged with the filth, with the chaos, the ugliness of the world, at the risk of being perceived as filth ourselves. Why? Because we find honesty in the unfiltered horror of life, not in politically and socially correct reportage which trivializes the real issues. It is our hope now that the newspapers and the social media mobs will react as strongly and as violently to more important matters in our country.
Once again, we extend our deepest apologies to all victims of rape and to those that we have offended. We hope that people will remember that the spirit of this country is based on tolerance and understanding, not on blind hate and public lynching.
Max Barashenkov and Montle Moroosi