Famous faces are not immune

The case of assault and counter case of same by media mogul Given Mkhari and his wife Ipeleng has once again shined the spotlight on South Africa's domestic violence and gender-based violence epidemic.

Mkhari and wife opened cases of assault against each other and later withdrew the charges at the Randburg Magistrate's Court on Monday.

It is alleged the couple had a fight at their Bryanston home in Joburg north on Saturday and opened cases of assault against each other and later released on R1 000 bail each.

Social media users had mixed emotions on the issue, with some people saying that he had joined the "trash" league of, among others, musician Arthur Mafokate and ANC MP Mduduzi Manana, while others were sympathetic towards him.

Mafokate has been accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, singer Cici, while Manana was convicted on three counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after he assaulted three women at a nightclub.

Other prominent men who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law include kwaito legend Mdu Masilela, who faced charges of assault after his baby mama opened a case against him, and Safa president Danny Jordaan, who has been accused of rape by musician and former ANC MP Jennifer Ferguson.

According to Ferguson, the incident happened 25 years ago. A second woman has also accused Jordaan of rape. He has denied the allegations.

Gender activist from the Commission of Gender Equality Mbuyiselo Botha said there were a lot of "untouchable men" because of their wealth and status.

He said society was always sympathetic to such men and treated from the default position that were not in the wrong.

"Police are more often than not reluctant to act [against powerful men]. There is always fear to act against them," said Botha.

"Family, business and social pressures are sometimes the reasons why many women remain in abusive relationships and marriages," he said.

"Women withdraw domestic violence charges they opened against their partners because of the social status, pressure from the family and from business partners. They feel they don't want to ruin their men's reputation and resort to solving issues at home," Botha said.

President of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) Chief Mathibela Mokoena said though the traditional processes of resolving domestic violence were painful, they could be helpful.

Mokoena said there was nothing wrong with resolving such issues at home before taking the legal route.

"The traditional way of resolving issues gives the husband and the wife a chance to be vulnerable to each other and be open about their problems. The victim is given a chance to tell the suspect what to do as part of redress and reconciliation, " the chief said.

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