‘Tweleb’ Outed As A Woman Beater: Did Followers Really Not See?

Although he is now being touted as a classic case of abusive men who do not fit the stereotypical description of a man one would expect to assault women, Siya Nyezi’s Twitter timeline paints a different picture. Despite building an impressive corporate career, the Investec employee has made his support for physical violence against women in certain case known, unapologetically. And not only that, deleted tweets mocking the physical injuries sustained by the ex-girlfriend, Twitter user Pearl, after he allegedly kicked her all night when she cried for help, have resurfaced from screengrabs taken before he took them down. Did his 22 400 followers miss these apalling tweets?

“You know my tweets. Doesn’t mean you know me”, proved to hold little water on Monday afternoon when notorious ‘tweleb’ Siya Nyezi trended, along with with his employers Investec, for having allegedly assaulted his then girlfriend Pearl. This line, written on Nyezi’s bio, greeted many who reported to his official timeline to learn more about the shameless misogynist who is said to have brutally assaulted his partner, leaving her with severe bruises. But a look at his history of tweets, many which would make anyone concerned with gender equality shrivel, is only now being taken as a legitimate tell tale sign that beating up a woman is no big deal for the UCT graduate.

The shocking allegation hit the social platform on Monday afternoon when Pearl plucked up enough courage to finally speak out about the abuse.  It is here that Pearl speaks of the alleged assault publicly for the first time, saying that Siya Nyezi kicked her the whole night and left with bruises that were so severe that she had to take some time off work – a hiatus which almost led her to lose her contract.

It was not long before messages of support and solidarity started pouring in for her, from close friends with whom she had shared her pain and from other women who had been on the wrong side of Siya’s hatred for women. One such girl is Nadedi Maponono (@imbokodoengasabi), who reached out to Pearl while sharing her own disturbing encounter with Siya. She first met him while they were both students at the University of Cape Town. Siya is said to have caught sight of her underwear when she stood up. It was not long before he took to Facebook to humiliate and berate her, allegedly posting to his friends there that “this Naledi chick should sit down, everyone has already seen her underwear”

When she confronted him over the post, he back paddled into oblivion. Until later, when he went back to his Facebook to call her a baboon. She took the matter to the discrimination and harassment office at the university, where it was passed on to the UCT Tribunal. He was found guilty of sexual harassment and instructed to write a letter apologising to Naledi and complete 40 hours of community service, a penalty which would do little to stop his abhorrent outlook on women. It was not long before he tried sleeping with her as a means to affirm his hyper masculinity.

Pearl has since opened up to several mainstream media outlets, including radio interviews on Talk Radio 702, about her said dispiriting hell with Nyezi. She has also taken the opportunity to join forces with other black women on the platform to encourage others to come forward when they are being abused, rather than internalise the abuse and be made to feel like it is their fault. This was amongst the cards the tweleb is said to have played. According to close friends, he is allegedly tried to forcing her to cut off contact with close friends.

Did His Followers Not See It? 

As aforementioned, Siya Nyezi rose to fame on the social platform by advancing controversial statements that sparked consistent outrage. And yet, all that outrage seemed to do was grow his followership. In fact, his tweet about women sometimes “filling in applications for a slap” earned him quite an impressive number of retweets and favourites. Did these retweets endorse and encourage the behaviour? Or were they simply retweets? One wonders.

But far more important to consider, is what this story means for violence against women in South Africa going forward. What role can be played by social media in exposing those who bash women behind closed doors? Can people’s timelines be used as a valid sources of information regarding the likely hood of someone being abusive?

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