Women with #MeToo claims of predatory and abusive sexual behaviour by the film maker continue to come forward. Charl Blignaut and Rhodé Marshall report on developments, including the first detailed allegation of rape.
* TRIGGER WARNING: GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF SEXUAL ABUSE *
“I was 16, about to turn 17, and a virgin and that was the time for me to start learning how to date and understand men. But that was taken away from me ... I really struggle with that today still. It’s a nightmare. I don’t sleep, I can’t stand the sound of screaming. I don’t allow intimacy,” says Ntombi, blinking back tears but refusing to cry in the Thai restaurant in Cape Town where she met with City Press on Wednesday this week.
Earlier that day the now 24-year-old, who first accused Khalo Matabane of rape on Twitter in October, tried to open a criminal case against the film maker but says she was turned away from Cape Town Central Police Station.
Ntombi gave a detailed version of what happened when she was a student working a part time holiday job at a hotel in Fresnaye during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Hers is one of several new accounts of sexual misconduct gathered by City Press.
“Our client is vehement that he is innocent of the allegations against him,” said his attorney Inger Jansen.
Ntombi says she found Matabane charming when she booked him in to his room at about 6.30pm.
“I thought he was a gay guy. And he was so nice, you know...” But her first impressions were to be radically altered by what she alleges happened on the second day of Matabane’s stay.
“He called the reception and said he doesn’t have towels. So I get the towels, I knock by his room. He says to me, ‘Come in, put the towels on the bed.’ The minute I walk inside I hear the door closing behind me. Then I realise this person was behind the door and the door closes and is locked. From there onwards it’s a struggle.
“He’s not dressed. I get really scared, you know. I say, ‘What are you doing?’ And he’s, ‘Don’t even think of screaming.’ The next thing he pushes me to the bed. He says, ‘Take off your clothes’ and I don’t. The next thing he pulled my T-shirt and he removed it. Everything was just happening so fast.
“I kept on screaming. I kept saying, ‘Stop it, don’t do that.’ He was saying crazy things, Don’t act like you don’t want this ... I like it when you [fight me] ... Stop pretending you’ve never had this shoot in you.’ I was still screaming and that’s when he took a pillow and he pressed it down on my face till I could hardly breathe. The next thing he was trying to penetrate me and it was a struggle … Then he was done. There was semen. But I think he got shocked when he saw the blood.
“He said, ‘You have to shower, you can’t go like this.’ I was refusing. He said, ‘Stop fighting me. Nobody fights me.’ Then he dragged me violently by my arm into the shower. Afterwards he said I should sit on his bed and he kept on asking me questions like, ‘Did you enjoy this? I know I’m good.’ He didn’t use a condom ... To this day I haven’t had a HIV test because I can’t face it...”
Matabane, she says, sat on the bed next to her and started working on his laptop. She moved to a chair where it took about two hours to calm down before Matabane allowed her to leave.
“He said, ‘You need to know that you’re not gonna tell this to anybody because no one will believe you.”
She recounts how she told a colleague and later her boss what had happened. Her boss, she said, dismissed her allegations and she stopped working at the hotel. City Press this week contacted her colleague, who was alarmed, saying, “I can’t talk about that” before hanging up. Another colleague contacted by City Press said, “I don’t know. It was busy with the World Cup guests so I was outside at the gate the whole time.”
Jansen told City Press: “Our client instructs that Ntombi has been in contact with him on numerous occasions over the years, yet never laid a charge. Due to the dangers of trial by media we will not go into further detail as not to jeopardise potential court proceedings. Our client welcomes the opportunity to answer these very serious allegations in court. His name is being smeared by allegations, the truth of which he denies and which, we respectfully submit there are no grounds to say these allegations are verified by yourselves as even substantially true.”
Ntombi said that when she saw Matabane heading to breakfast the next day he gave her an ominous glare.
That same day, she says, Matabane received two more female guests. One, carrying film equipment, left and then about an hour later the second woman emerged.
“When she came out she was in tears. Something had happened downstairs. And he came after her. He was trying to stop her from going. I don’t know what he was saying.”
She communicated with Matabane by text several times over the years. “His response was always either to tell me I was hallucinating or that I wanted it too.”
She said: “Even if he goes to Pollsmoor, it is too late for me. The damage is done. But maybe I can stop him doing it to other girls.”
She is determined to press charges despite what happened on Wednesday with a female detective.
“She never gave me a case number, she told me that sorry, really, this happened eight years ago there is no proof. She said there’s no case, because it’s my word against his.”
Police spokesperson Andrè Traut said, “Crime against women and children is a top priority for the Western Cape police, and failure of our members to assist a victim is viewed in a very serious light. These allegations must first be investigated before this office will be in a position to offer you a suitable response.”
Other rape allegations
Three weeks ago City Press reported on another rape allegation that surfaced when Power FM host Aphele Somi shared on Twitter an account of a woman who claims Matabane raped her after inviting her to his hotel room to look at his work in 2013.
READ: Khalo Matabane - Women speak out
Since then City Press has become aware of two other women with similar accounts, also in hotel rooms, but the women are not yet ready to talk out, although they say they soon will be.
Jansen said: “While we understand many rape cases go unreported, we respectfully submit that to publish these criminal allegations whilst no criminal proceedings have ensued, is grossly unfair to our client.”
Another open letter
This week another woman in the industry has added her voice.
BusaBuntu’s open letter appears to confirm a pattern in Matabane’s behaviour relating to business meetings with women wanting to advance in the industry. In a poignant, no-nonsense account BusaBuntu writes of three meetings with him at a coffee shop in Killarney in the early 2000s.
She approached him for a professional meeting and says she never flirted as she was not attracted to him. Yet “he would always casually say lewd and sexually offensive comments ... After each he would lay his hand on my shoulder, knee or arm and rub me for what always felt too long.”
She decided to meet him one last time.
“I asked him if he had a chance to look at the concept document I had given him and obviously he hadn’t.” She refused an offer of a meal and refused to laugh at his jokes.
“He turned to me and asked me directly if I wanted to have sex with him or not ... He thrust his cutlery on his plate, leaned in my direction and aggressively said, ‘How do you want to take it baby?’ I burst into laughter. I laughed the pain away.”
She hasn’t communicated with Matabane since that final encounter in 2008 and wrote the letter to take a stand alongside the other women speaking out and all young women entering the industry.
Said Jansen: “If the author felt as uncomfortable as she claims there was no obligation for the author to have further contact with our client as there was no work contract. Our client has stated before that he has never used his position as a director to gain sexual favour from any person.”
Another woman speaks of abuse
A week ago entrepreneur Mathabo Mbele shared her experience with Matabane on Twitter. Mbele sat down with City Press, recounting her Twitter thread and alleged she met with Matabane in 2013 to discuss business ideas at his guest house in Melville. He had to rush off to a meeting and she waited in his room and he returned in about half an hour with two bottles of red wine.
Mbele, then 25, says Matabane opened a bottle of wine and told her that she looked tired and perhaps needed a shower – while briefing him about her concepts. “Of course I didn’t question, I went to the shower. I didn’t feel like I needed to be guarded ... He came into the shower and it was like look, I’m joining you in the shower, am I the first man to be with you.”
Mbele claims there was no indication that gave Matabane permission or a sign that it was okay to get into the shower with her. “I went from total confidence to shame because when he had his finger up my ass I was like what the f**k am I doing, am I really trying to submit my soul and everything to this man?”
“After the shower I went straight to bed ... confused ... happy, sad, ashamed.” Mbele says she then blocked Matabane on all social media platforms and from contacting her via phone or text messages.
Later Matabane contacted her again through LinkedIn, asked her forgiveness and arranged a second meeting during which she says he “pulled out his penis, grabbed me and demanded a blow job. I tried to talk him out if it, but he was so forceful and angry, pushed my whole 120kg body mass to my knees and shoved his penis in my mouth. Needless to say, that was the last time I saw him.” Mbele says after he asked for forgiveness she perceived it as acknowledgement of fault. “He knew what he did was wrong and said it won’t happen again, until he did again.”
Matabane’s lawyer’s full response
I am the legal representative for Mr Khalo Matabane. Should litigation ensue I have appointed Advocate Sam Mufamadi as senior counsel. I thus use the term ‘we’ when referring to Mr Matabane’s legal representation.
Our client welcomes the opportunity to answer these very serious allegations in court. Our client has never been given this opportunity but instead his name is being smeared by allegations, the truth of which he denies and which, we respectfully submit there are no grounds to say these allegations are verified by yourselves as even substantially true.
Particularly the two rape allegations, whilst we understand many rape cases go unreported, we respectfully submit that to publish these criminal allegations whilst no criminal proceedings have ensued, is grossly unfair to our client.
You have sent our client an email with a number of separate allegations, which if my client were to answer in a public forum it would amount to my client entertaining a trial by media, which, it is our submission is not in the public interest.
In regards to Ntombi, our client instructs that Ntombi has been in contact with him on numerous occasions over the years, yet never laid a charge. Due to the dangers of trial by media we will not go into further detail as not to jeopardise potential court proceedings. We have noted at least one material contradiction in her versions as you have emailed client yesterday and previously.
As for allegations of being a sexual predator and the latest letter from BusaBuntu, this author was at liberty not to meet our client again, but she states that she did. If the author felt as uncomfortable as she claims there was no obligation for the author to have further contact with our client as there was no work contract. Our client has stated before that he has never used his position as a director to gain sexual favour from any person.
In regards to the publication of these articles I refer you to this exert from Media Law by Robert Brand, which I trust you are aware of (para 135)
In Graham v Ker (1892) 9 SC 185 187 the court provided guidance to distinguish between matters of private and public interest: “As a general principal I take it to be for the public benefit that the truth as to the character or conduct of individuals should be known. But the worst characters sometimes reform and some of the inducements to reformation would be removed if stories as to past transgressions could with impunity be raked up after a long period of time. Public interest as I conceive it would suffer rather than benefit from any unnecessary reviving of forgotten scandals but the commission of recent offences against the law or against society stands on a different footing. It is generally for the public interest that others who might have any dealings with the guilty individual should be informed of his true character and it is sufficient protection to the innocent that the burden of proving the defamatory words lies upon him [her] who uttered them.”
Our client is vehement that he is innocent of the allegations against him.
While ourselves and our client respect all women’s right to speak up, it would be grossly unfair if by simply being accused a man were to be deemed guilty. There are cases in our courts of law on a daily basis where accused person’s get acquitted through the process of a fair trial, because guilt has not been proven.
All women have a right to justice, but what justice can be gained by publication of these unproven as true or even substantially true, criminal and defamatory allegations other than to attempt to destroy our client’s good name and make him a subject of public entertainment, which we submit, is not in the public interest.
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