South African Writer and Abantu Book Festival writer Thando Mgqolozana has come out with a statement regarding abuse allegations leveled against him by his ex-partner.
On Saturday, August 23 tweets that alleged that Thando Mgqolozana was involved with intimate partner violence by his partner of many years were posted. They were deleted on the same day. There were many statements made by many in the South African literary community expressing degrees of shock and grief including PEN South Africa.
Thando Mgqolozana came out yesterday with a video message explaining his part in the whole of it and we reproduce it below. The video comes first and the transcript follows after.
“Molweni It has taken me six days to respond to the tweets posted by Thabisa my ex-wife because I had to ensure the safety of my daughter first and that of my ex-wife before I did anything else. I will share the substance and details of the full story behind those tweets in due course, if it becomes necessary. I will agonize over the pain that this episode has caused our daughter, our respective families, friends, the Abantu community, and everyone else who has been affected by the story in whatever way. So please listen to my response carefully.
My name is Thando Mgqolozana. I am an author of several books. I’m the creator of Abantu Book Festival, and recently The Ultimate Book Show. It is with sadness and a heavy heart that I issue a statement today, on the back of serious allegations leveled against me by my ex-wife mainly on social media. I would like to place it on record that my relationship with Thabisa became instantly toxic, particularly toxic from the 30th of October 2018. During this difficult time, we put in a great effort, including interventions by families, friends, and professionals. But we failed. We all failed. As a result, we separated and our relationship remains strained as we navigate the co-parenting of our beloved daughter. It is however important for me to place it on record that I have never abused Thabisa. And God helped me to never ever do that.
In my written work, as well the curatorial of the special space like Abantu book festival, I’m passionate about the basic proponent against gender-based violence, which is that if a woman reports that she has been abused, believe her. Believe her. Living in this society where men rape and murder women every minute, it is important for us to rally support for those who report. And I will not waver from this important pillar of the fight against gender-based violence even as I look everyone in the eye and honestly tell them that I’m not one of the perpetrators. To this effect, I hope that someone can also help to Thabisa to formally lay charges against me so that a court of law can rule on this matter.
For my part, I have finally been granted an interim protection order to prevent any further abuse towards me, my friends and my colleagues. Thabisa deserves justice as I deserve closure on this matter. As a society, we are limited in so far as the tools available to us to come to a determination of factual guilt or innocence. We rely heavily upon our justice system as the final arbiter of such matters as much as we all know that it is an imperfect system. But I find myself in an impossible position of being demanded to prove what has not happened. And in the absence of any tool better than courts of law, wishing that this matter was being discussed within those parameters. I humbly request that our daughter not be dragged into this. She’s finally safe. And today, she’s sang for me.
I would like to make an impassioned plea that we please separate this story and Abantu Book Festival. The story is about Thando and Thabisa and not Abantu. It is unfair to break Ubuntu and call for its boycott. It is also unfair to drag authors associated with Ubuntu into the story. I have agreed with my colleagues that while this matter between Thabisa and myself is being attended to, the team will appoint someone who is going to oversee and facilitate the administration of The Ultimate Book Show and the next edition of Abantu Book Festival. I assure every author associated with Abantu and those who will still want to work with us that we remain a safe space. We remain committed to the ideals for which we were created in 2016.I will not be issuing any more statements or taking media interviews until this matter is finalized. Maybe what you should also know is this: the most dominant feeling that I have inside of me for the first time in nearly three years is that of some relief. I’m a bit relieved that I don’t have to worry about this anymore. But I want to state again that please believe her, support her. She doesn’t have anyone else to do that for her. Thank you.”