S/Africa broadcasting boss probed over ‘wife as gift

Outraged South African women’s groups have won an investigation into allegations that the head of the public broadcaster was given a wife as a gift, an official said Friday.

“We have received plenty of complaints on the matter,” the government’s Commission for Gender Equality spokesman Javu Baloyi told AFP. In response, the commission had launched “a serious and intense investigation,” he said. The acting chief operations officer of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, was allegedly given a young woman — along with a cow and a calf — by a lobby group of traditional leaders.

The Sowetan newspaper reported last week that about 10 women were lined up in Thohoyandou, Limpopo province, by traditional Venda chiefs seeking greater exposure of their culture, and Motsoeneng was invited to choose one. The woman Motsoeneng chose — 22-year-old human resources management student Vanessa Mutswari — was pictured in the newspaper bare-breasted next to him, standing behind a trailer on which the cow and calf had been loaded.

 “The use of women as gifts as if they were livestock is a serious regress and an insult to the gains of 20 years of democracy and freedom, particularly the contribution of women,” women’s ministry spokeswoman Kenosi Machepa said. Kelley Moult of the University of Cape Town gender, health and justice research unit told AFP this attitude to women also fuelled “the very high levels of gender violence that our society experiences.”

Gender commission spokesman Baloyi said the investigation into the complaints was expected to be completed within a couple of weeks. Motsoeneng has not responded publicly to the investigation.

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