Bucs captain on rape rap!

Date: January 1, 1970
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The story is about the captain of a local soccer team being charged with the rape of a minor.

This article may be used in training to:
Show how coverage of gender violence often reinforces gender stereotypes.
Trainer’s notes
Coverage of gender violence remains riddled with blatant stereotypes. Far from being portrayed as a flagrant violation of women’s rights, the stories are frequently told in sensational ways; from the perspective of the perpetrator without any views from the victim or human rights organisations and in a cavalier fashion that suggests men are entitled to behave in this way and that women are to blame.
In this story, the use of the term “rap” trivializes the charge. The accused, Orlando Pirates soccer captain Benedict Vilakazi, described as the “popular skipper” is reported in capital letters to have “DENIED THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST HIM.” Even though the captain has been suspended, the story stresses that his fans will “stand by their man until the case is proved one way or the other.” The only sources in the story about the “shock charge” are Vilakazi’s soccer bosses; there is no perspective on the alleged victim.  The only context or background information in the story is the soccer star’s motto taken from the official website: “learn something every day while you enjoy yourself.”
The photo that accompanies the story is a calendar pin up of Vilakazi with a model. The story mentions that Vilakazi is married with two kids, but the perspective of his family is missing. The overriding impression from the story is that although this is big headline stuff the crime itself (rape) is not serious; that in a perverse way it adds to the macho image of the subject (there is certainly nothing to suggest that it is a matter of shame or embarrassment) and that all this is likely to be a temporary set back.      
Some training exercises
Ask the students to discuss the headline.
Ask the students to rewrite the headline and discuss the changes amongst themselves.
What do they think about the picture that is used in relation to the story?
What alternative picture could they have used? Why?
Who else could they have interviewed for this story?
Ask students to do a search of other stories on gender violence and analyse how they are reported.
Ask students to read the following analysis from SATV on the Vilakazi case and discuss the similarities and differences in the two narratives. Guide them in understanding why the second narrative is more balanced in terms of sources and debate. 
SATV reporting on the Vilakazi rape case
In a report titled “He’s scheduled to play tonight, but women’s groups cry foul” SATV
reports that well-known football player Benedict Vilakazi has been accused of raping a 15-year old girl. He has denied the charges. Although suspended as captain of his team, the Orlando Pirates, Vilakazi has not been suspended from playing completely. This is what the group People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) is calling for, pending the outcome of the case.
The story is built around the following segments:
Anchor: “A women’s rights NGO has called on Orlando Pirates bosses to completely suspend the football club’s captain Benedict Vilakazi from the side”.
Reporter (over shots of male footballers, and of Vilakazi playing); “People Opposing Violence, POWA, believes Orlando Pirates could have done more to send a message condemning violence against women and children”.
POWA representative Carrie Shelver (standing with POWA poster in background): ‘Yes, we support the suspension of the captaincy. We would support though a suspension, pending an outcome of the case, of him playing’.
Pirates spokesperson Dominic Ntsele (sitting in office): “I understand where POWA comes from. The allegations are very serious. But Pirates could not do anything which suggests that we pre-judge the case”.
Street interviews. Young man: “A person is innocent until proven guilty…it’s his word against the word of the lady”. Young women: “There’s a very big possibility that she was raped…But it’s also possible that she wasn’t.
Reporter’s summing up (over shots of footballers): “Vilakazi…denies all charges”.
The angle of the story is the position taken by POWA. The statement form their representative included in the opening headlines to the bulletin, and is the starting point for the item itself. The Pirates’ spokesperson has clearly been asked to react to POWA’s position. The street interview statements are balanced. The language of both anchor and reporter is neutral.
The item’s foregrounding of POWA’s position differentiates it from the usual angle taken in stories of this kind. Commonly the focus is on the accused individual, reactions of family and colleagues, history of previous behaviour etc. such a focus personalizes the issue and removes it from the wider context and causes of violence against women. By focusing on the advocacy group and its call for the Pirates to send a ‘message condemning violence against women and children’ the item suggests that this particular case relates to a broader phenomenon.
Although it des not explore issues such as unequal power relations as possible causes of sexual violence, the story does imply that the Vilakazi case raises bigger questions than whether this individual is guilty or innocent.
(Source: GMMP 2005: p94)

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