'Big Brother' turns a blind eye to alleged rape

01 May 2015 - 01:02 By Rebecca Davis
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M-Net needs to tell us exactly what happened between 'Big Brother' contestants Adams and Bexx, writes Rebecca Davis.

"I dipped her but I don't think she remembers because she passed out." It's not the kind of statement you'd want crocheted on a pillow, is it? But that was Siyanda "Adams" Ngwenya's account of the "incident" which saw him and fellow Big Brother Mzansi contestant Axolo "Bexx" Mbengo kicked out of the Big Brother house this season.

This story is old news now, but I wanted to delay writing about it until there was some kind of resolution. Maybe this was naïve, because at the time of writing it's unclear whether any resolution at all will be forthcoming - at least in the public eye. The two contestants were booted out and taken for "debriefing and counselling". We were told that there was an "investigation" being undertaken by M-Net.


Following the contestants' expulsion from the house, the show's PR company carried on sending out excited press releases as if nothing had happened: "During last night's live Big Brother Mzansi: Double Trouble show, Biggie delivered a big twist when he unexpectedly sent an auditor into the house and tasked surprised housemates to make their nominations for this week there and then!" Arguably not as much of a twist as having contestants ejected from the house on suspicion of rape.

The Sunday Times reported that the axed twosome were being kept in a hotel and permitted to make contact with their families only by phone. That seemed odd, but I'm going to take it on faith that there were good reasons for this, beyond the need to contain a spiralling PR nightmare. I admit that I cannot think of a single good reason why a woman who may have been raped should be denied interactions with her loved ones, but maybe I'm missing something.


Then the two contestants were released to return home, with Adams musing wistfully: "I still miss Biggie's house." Understandably! Where else might you, hypothetically, be able to "dip" a woman too drunk to consent to sex in front of multiple cameras and face no punitive action?

I don't know what happened in the Big Brother house that night. But I do know that Adams had previously been cautioned by producers after forcefully kissing and groping Bexx despite her resistance, which doesn't inspire me to look too kindly upon him. I also know that some of the comments about Bexx on social media, following their expulsion, illustrated why some women are reluctant to report sexual assault.

Why can't the M-Net producers clarify why no legal action is being pursued? It would be particularly helpful in this instance because the issue of sexual consent between drunken individuals is often a point of contention. Can't M-Net help us understand how and why this "incident" was resolved? And if not, why not? If their investigation found Adams to be blameless, shouldn't they issue an apology for besmirching his reputation?

Not for the first time, what this episode raises is the wisdom of the Big Brother format. In an ideal world, you'd pen a group of youngsters in a house with unlimited alcohol and the worst thing that would happen is that people would get a bit giggly and dance funny. As Big Brother Mzansi seems to have proved this season, we don't live in that world.

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