The hashtag #CheaterSA had been trending on Twitter for a few days recently. I must admit, a few years ago I would have been excited and completely thrilled that a show like this was finally coming to South Africa. Now I'm concerned that it's even getting aired.
According to IMBd the original Cheaters TV series first aired in 2000 and it has not been without drama. The show allows anyone to write in to the producers if they suspect that their partner is having an affair. The partner accused of cheating is then heavily surveilled for a few days and the evidence is presented to the person who wrote into the show. The evidence can be devastating if they find out that their suspicions were real.
A Twitter user first posted about Cheaters SA a week ago asking people to share the post to raise awareness about the show when it was still unconfirmed if it was headed to our shores. It's been confirmed in an article in the Sowetan that it will be called Uyajola Na?
The reactions of the upcoming show have been quite mixed with some people excited that people who cheat will finally be exposed and that a show like this would make great television considering that U.S. series had high ratings.
While others were completely against the show and felt that a show like this had no place in South Africa's current climate:
#CheatersSA is such a terrible idea though! So many women have been murdered because of jealous & envious partners. I can't imagine the havoc that will erupt once this show starts exposing relationships that really aren't for our entertainment or viewing pleasure— Khalipha ?? (@khalipha_ntloko) July 5, 2018
These Twitter users were concerned about the femicide problem we are faced with in the country. According to Carte Blanche, femicide is "the act of killing a woman, as by a domestic partner or a member of a criminal enterprise". In most cases femicide refers to the killing of a women by an intimate partner.
There are no rational reasons a person can give for killing an intimate partner but in the spotlight cases in South Africa, we find that these killings are committed by jealous partners or ex-partners who couldn't accept the relationship coming to an end.
We asked a few women what they thought of Cheaters SA becoming a reality:
In May this year, News24 reported that a 23-year-old man confessed on Facebook that he had killed his girlfriend. News24 loosely translated the post that was written in isiZulu which read, "It is surreal. If I had the power I would bring her back so that we can right our wrongs by talking. But that's no longer possible because she has left me without me having told her that I forgive her." Implying that he had a lapse of judgement.
Part of Lisa Vetten's research who is a PHd Fellow at Witwatersrand university focuses on intimate partner violence in South Africa. She says that she thinks a show like Cheaters SA might reinforce the sense in some men of possessiveness and a sense of ownership over women if it is not handled properly. "From my own research while looking at women who have been killed by their intimate partners – jealousy is the number one reason," she says. It is even the mere suspicion that a woman is cheating that gets them killed.
She adds that a show like this in South Africa is quite hypocritical especially in a country that has the 'blessers' culture. Men with a lot of partners are seen as 'proper men' by other men, "historically men with lots of partners are looked upon with admiration and they do not do the same with women at all," she explains.
So a show like Cheaters SA might be meet with mixed reactions when a woman is caught cheating as opposed to when a man is caught cheating.
Lisa says given the intimate partner violence we are faced with in this country we need to be careful about creating anything that reinforces women as possessions for men. From her personal perspective, "when people cheat on each other that is something that needs to sorted out between themselves. I don’t think it needs to be a public spectacle."
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