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Mzansi’s new gossip gangsters and the dangers that come with a lack of accountability

Mzansi’s new gossip gangsters and the dangers that come with a lack of accountability. Picture: Brett Sayles from Pexels

Mzansi’s new gossip gangsters and the dangers that come with a lack of accountability. Picture: Brett Sayles from Pexels

Published Jan 23, 2022

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One thing about celebrity gossip is that it gets clicks – lots of them. The hotter the tea, the more the clicks. It seems this crazy formula has somehow birthed a new breed of Mzansi gossip gangsters.

Dramatic much?

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Maybe, but these gossip sleuths have proven to hold back on nothing when it comes to posting about the country's famous and not so famous faces.

The rise of social media has birthed a new class of tabloid reporters that have claimed platforms like Instagram, Twitter and YouTube as their reporting ground.

Love them or hate them, but social media accounts such as “Musa Khawula”, “Popcorn Room SA”, “Hot and Served” and “Maphepha Ndaba” to name a few keep growing in numbers.

These accounts are solely dedicated to dishing out gossip content. The content can be reshares of posts from celebrities with some having extra spice.

The juicy stuff where they are hanging out and with whom, to even how they are spending their money is spilt.

Being able to have access to celebrities through social media has granted these gossip sleuths easy access to “news” and being the first to share it with their followers gives them an added advantage.

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Despite what critics may say, celebrity news is news and people want to know about it. Of course, if you spill the tea about what really led to the breakdown of a celebrity relationship, people will click.

It is worth noting that there is a line that differentiates what these gossip gangsters are doing as opposed to those writing for magazines and TV tabloids.

Gossip gangsters, at times, adhere to no ethics and have a no-holds barred approach to their reporting style.

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AKA and Nelli Tembe. Picture: Instagram

The tragic death of Anele “Nelli” Tembe – the fiancée of local rapper AKA, gave a glimpse of how ruthless these gossip gangsters can get as images of the scene of where she committed suicide and moments from her relationship with AKA flooded social media.

Mourning Tembe’s tragic death must have been a difficult experience for her family and friends as a social media storm was brewing around her death with everyone on Twitter weighing in.

These social media accounts wasted no time in reposting each and every update of what followed, offering no silence for those close to the situation.

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But, one could argue that they also helped with revealing the turbulent side of AKA’s relationship with Tembe, the stuff they hide from their social media followers.

Nathan Adams, a journalist and History and Heritage Master’s Student at the University of Pretoria, said that the South African media space was a complex one because of its history.

“Given the lack of representation of the majority of South Africans pre-1994 it’s been a very short time that all South Africans feel represented in the media and true, full representation is hard to attain,” he said.

“The tabloid media space is in its infancy in South Africa but unlike in America, and the UK it’s not solely about sensationalism and rumours.

“This is a media space that many South Africans feel comfortable with in the democratic dispensation. Tabloid news speaks to South African audiences in a voice and tone that they understand and respond to – colloquial language that resonates with its audience.

Rea Gopane and Bonang Matheba. Picture: Supplied

“Celebrity culture goes hand in hand with this level of representation which is unique in South Africa – for the first time we have media personalities who look like us, sound like us, share the same background as us and in many ways represent us in their work in the entertainment industry,” he said.

There is a duty of care that South African media must accept because of the history of the media landscape, he said.

“That duty of care does not extend to social media news outlets and citizen journalism. The same media laws and even ethical standards expected of commercial, mass media does not extend to citizen journalism in South Africa.

“There is a leeway extended to citizen journalism that is not afforded to commercial media.

“This imbalance is not always appreciated by the audience on social media who will often question, ’Why are they not naming the perpetrator?’ and ’Why are they not naming the abuser’, but it’s because media law is often prohibitive but doesn't apply to a citizen reporter who is able to cross the line where legacy media cannot overstep.”

Fame is something that some people desire and with the internet instant fame has become attainable.

Entertainment blogger Musa Khawula's Twitter account has more than 67.5k followers and it has not been around for even a year. One can attribute his online success to all the tea he spills, and he sure does spill.

Musa's Twitter account is filled with posts about South African celebrities and influencers. It seems like he has his pulse on all social media posts from Mzansi’s famous faces and not so famous.

His followers may love all the hot tea he spills but the celebrities he tweets about not so much.

With fake news always being on the rise, celebrities are using their voices to call out the fake news about them.

Khawula has been called out by celebrities such as Naak Musiq, Shauwn Mkhize and Ntando Duma all because of his spicy tweets.

Shauwn “MaMkhize” Mkhize. Picture: Instagram

When her grandchildren became the focus of social media gossip, driven by internet trolls, businesswoman and reality TV star, Mkhize, took to her Instagram account to publish a stern warning.

“Hands off my grandchildren!!! I had such an amazing time with my grandchildren this past weekend.

As a parent I think it is important that we protect our kids from unnecessary or premature exposure. These are kids guys (sic) and let’s not rob them of their innocence by involving them in the 'cruelty' and the harsh realities of this world,” she said.

Mkhize is used to her name being splashed in the tabloids and now social media but her grandchildren aren’t. Her scathing words came after rumours floated about the paternity of her son, Andile Mpisane’s children.

We also can’t ignore the fact that gossip or social media commentary has also become a way to make ends meet. Yes, the bag is being secured with gossip.

#YouTubeBlackVoices Creator Class of 2021 alumni Owamie Netshivhazwaulu, formerly known by the surname Hlongwane, is one of the most watched YouTubers in SA all because of her current entertainment news channel.

Her “ninjas” are loyal and they keep coming back to watch her hilarious videos where she dishes her opinion on celebrities.

She makes a living from being just a YouTube sensation; the platform has basically opened doors for her. And while the critics may not like her, she doesn't mind. She only minds the business that pays her.

It may be all fun and games to tweet or gossip about the famous and not-so-famous faces of Mzansi but there is a serious side to it all.

Not everyone appreciates having their name on a gossip sleuth’s lips, okay, okay, blog or tweet or Instagram post – especially if what they are saying is defamatory or untrue.

In response to the gossip sleuths, we have seen Mzansi celebrities lawyer up and legal letters being served left, right and centre.

It is unclear whether media personality Bonang Matheba will ever receive her R500 000 from controversial local podcaster Rea Gopane.

However, she has managed to get an apology and retraction, in writing and video from him following the comments he made about her.

Matheba had issued a legal letter against the podcaster after making rather eyebrow raising allegations about Matheba in connection to cocaine.

Music entrepreneur Nota Nhlamulo Baloyi, popularly known as Nota, has received his fair share of legal letters.

He is currently in a legal battle with local DJ Shimza over comments he made in connection with the DJ.

The matter is ongoing and Nota is determined to fight it out. One legal encounter that saw Nota eating his words was his matter with Siya Metane, known as Slikour.

Nota apologised to Slikour for “false allegations and offensive insults” he made during an interview on “Everything SA Music”.

We can all agree that social media is fun and a great distraction and if you are a gossip lover, then there is plenty of content for you to indulge in.

Gossip gangsters are here to stay, so maybe it might be time for them to review their formula when it comes to certain gossip.

Gossip sells but the truth is important, especially if you have no legal team on standby.

Related Topics:

Celebrity Gossip

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