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SA women and children targeted by unfounded ‘false rape’ allegations online

SA women and children targeted by unfounded ‘false rape’ allegations online
Women working in advocacy spaces are being unjustly targeted online by a group who claims that they are false rape accusers. (Photo: quantamagazine.org / Wikipedia)

‘False Rape SA’ is an organisation that publishes the details of women and children who they allege have made false rape allegations. Operated anonymously, they provide no evidence for these claims, and tend to target women who work in advocacy spaces. Daily Maverick spoke to some of these women and discussed the egregiousness of this organisation.

A self-proclaimed non-profit organisation is posting the names, pictures, and locations of women and children who they claim to be false rape accusers. 

‘False Rape SA’, operated anonymously, provides no evidence for these allegations, and did not answer Daily Maverick when contacted. 

Active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress, the organisation proceeds on the basis that ‘toxic femininity’ has created a culture of false rape allegations and vastly overestimated rape statistics in South Africa. 

They claim to be the ‘first world information centre on false rape’ and state that they will not take down their list of supposed false rape accusers until the government develops a statute for false rape allegations. 

The targeted 

While presenting their venture as a noble one, the truth of this organisation is that they tend to unjustly target women who work in advocacy spaces. 

“80% of the people on the page are actually friends of mine, they are activists that work in the activism space,” said the fundraising director at Rise Up Against Gender-Based Violence, Mandisa Khanyile, who was posted on the false rape accusers list on 11 December. 

It was after she had made a Facebook post critical of the MacG podcast that she was listed as a false rape accuser, said Khanyile. 

“They are making up allegations that are so out of this world”. 

Roché Kester, who simply commented on Khanyile’s post, was then also listed as a false rape accuser. 

Kester works in the LGBTQIA+ activism space and said that she had never heard of the organisation before. 

“Next thing my face appears on this website, and I’m like: ‘What the hell is going on here?’” 

The non-profit women’s rights organisation, Women for Change, were first made aware of the organisation in December 2021 after they began receiving attacks from them on social media. 

“They have attacked us on their platforms before and have posted our images on their Instagram,” said the founder of Women for Change, Sabrina Walter. 

“They also post videos of little children and say that they are false rape accusers. It’s so violating”. 

The battle for removal 

The organisation released a statement on 11 December in which they criticised Walter for being a ‘white supremacist’ who furthered the stereotype that black men were rapists. No convincing justification was provided for the charge. 

Women for Change, which raises awareness around gender-based violence, were referred to as “nothing but gossipers and slander writers” in this same statement. 


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Walter said that they have been trying to figure out who is behind the page so that they could sue them for defamation, but that this pursuit has so far proved fruitless. 

“We have tried reporting the website and their similar accounts. Nothing. WordPress got back to us and said that they don’t see violent content and won’t take the page down,” she said. 

Similarly, both Khanyile and Kester have reported the Facebook account, only to receive feedback that ‘no breach in community guidelines’ was found. 

“This is clearly one of those disinformation sites. They should be taken down just for doxing,” said the director of Media Monitoring Africa, William Bird. 

The real issue

While there is an obvious seriousness to false allegations, this problem is not larger than South Africa’s high levels of rape, said Bird, adding that this is where efforts of activism should rather be directed. 

“[The organisation] is particularly egregious given the overwhelming evidence that sexual violence is just far too frequent and almost normalised in our society. To suggest (false rape allegations) are a common thing and to suggest that the state should waste time and resources on that…is just completely and fundamentally ridiculous, and offensive, frankly,” said Bird. 

Falsely accusing someone of rape demeans their character, but the flip side of being too intimidated to speak out or report rape is that it harms the public good, as rapists are left to roam society largely unchecked, said Bird. 

While it is South African law that makes the justice process such an unapproachable one for so many victims and survivors, organisations like these do little to encourage reporting. 

“The default position clearly disfavours women and survivors of sexual violence and children because they are left in an almost flipping impossible position where, unless they want to go through the trauma of the justice system, it pretty much means their hands are tied. If they then go and legitimately say this person raped me, they are the ones who can then be called before court for defamation. Which is just clearly and completely unjust,” said Bird. 

For this reason, Bird suggests that a new mechanism be implemented where survivors can legitimately accuse someone of rape, without having to lay a criminal charge and go through the harrowing and often re-victimising experience of a court case. 

Taking down

Khanyile fears that the allegations against her may “bite [her] in the ass” if they are not openly addressed. 

“This is actually harmful. What if something happens to one of us because people believe this narrative?” 

While reporting the organisations’ various social media pages has so far proved unsuccessful in taking them down, Bird suggested that coordinated complaints against them are continually laid so that the different social media sites may take notice of them. DM/MC

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Epsilon Indi says:

    To have a “new” mechanism for reporting rape without having to lay a charge quite likely violates an accused’s right to face their accuser and to have their day in court. I agree the legal process may intimidate victims but it’s not fair to enable the accuser’s ability to get justice by violating the accused’s right to justice. If William Bird is suggesting that victims be allowed to get justice without going through a legal process fair to both accused and accuser then I suspect he may have lost the plot, you can’t replace one evil with another evil, that doesn’t solve anything.

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