At the launch of her new novel, Jackie Phamotse has spoken out about being gang-raped by five men when she was 17, one a powerful politician.
Popular author Jackie Phamotse dropped a bombshell during the launch of her second novel in Johannesburg yesterday.
When she was 17 years old, and at a club called Whispers in Bloemfontein, she was gang-raped by five men who had hired the club for a party while they were attending a conference. The man leading the pack – then a powerful local government official – “is now a deputy minister in [President Jacob] Zuma’s Cabinet”, she told City Press at the event.
And her rapist, she claims, has actively tried to block the launch of Bare, a work of fiction based on Phamotse’s own life as a model and blessee – before she became the businesswoman she is today.
Phamotse is now on a mission to educate young women about the realities and dangers of the blessee life.
She refused to reveal the man’s name to City Press.
“I was supposed to launch the book two months ago, but I’ve had to move the date three times because he was doing everything he could to block it. He was demanding to know what I was writing about, worried that the rape would come out.”
Bare has been endorsed by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who called it a “phenomenal story”, and by ANC presidential hopeful Mathews Phosa, who wrote: “The future of our literature is in this book.”
Phamotse received a horrible shock when Bare was sent to be printed in Cape Town. “They printed 2,000 copies. The next day, all those books had been stolen from the printers.”
At the slick, well-attended launch at African Flavour bookstore in Braamfontein, where even the bottled water was branded with the name of the book – and where Kenny Kunene joined blessee Amanda Cele and Serge the International Blesser on a panel to give the lowdown on the sugar daddy situation in South Africa – Phamotse stood up and began her address by recounting the gang rape.
Drugged and raped
It happened, she said, during her first taste of freedom as a learner, growing up in the house of a father who was a Lesotho military commander and who, she said, would beat her mother.
She was attending winter school in the Free State when she went to party at a club for the first time. It would turn out to be the most harrowing night of her life.
“I went with friends. It was a strip club kind of place,” she said.
“I tasted alcohol for the first time ... Around 02:00 I had drunk so much that the manager of the club, a woman, noticed me ... She showed me the bathroom upstairs in the club and I went and tried to pee, and I said: ‘I have a headache; I feel like vomiting.’
“She said: ‘Let me get you some Disprin or Panado’, and she came back very quickly. She gave me a pill and a can of Coke.”
Phamotse was taken to another room.
“In less than four minutes I had lost control. I could see and hear, but I could not move. I felt numb, and that’s when I knew I was in trouble ... She just said: ‘Relax, you’re gonna be fine.’
“Very shortly, a group of five men came in and I knew in that moment what was going to happen. One guy said to me: ‘I’ve been eyeing you the whole night. I’ve been looking at your red dress and I know you want me as much as I want you. I am the one who bought your drinks – now relax.’ And I remember looking at his face and I sort of silently said: ‘Please stop.’
“He grabbed me by my braids and I fell to the floor. I had a little mini red dress on which I only wore at church ... I could see him ripping off his belt as the other guys cheered him on to rape me and saying they would be next.”
The manager then locked the door. “And five guys raped me, one by one, within three hours. I remember struggling for air, struggling for life, regretting each and every moment I had spent in that club.
“After that they threw a R50 note in my hand and said: ‘That’s how much you’re worth; thank you for your service’ – and they left. The lady came back and said: ‘You’re wasting my room time, get out!’ And another girl was thrown in the same room...”
Phamotse says she was dragged down the stairs naked and by her hair, taken to a car and driven to where she was staying.
She told City Press that the man, “then just under the MEC, basically ran the municipality, and I couldn’t report it to the police”.
The manager, she said “had been told to find girls for the party but didn’t, and so instead, she preyed on young women who were guests”.
Phamotse said she attempted suicide twice after the rape, “but I’m obviously not very good at it”.
She recounted a second incident when a wealthy blesser, pretending to be a Playboy photographer, hired her and two other models for a cover shoot in the Seychelles. During their time on the island, he insisted on “one-on-one time with each of us” during which he demanded sex. Phamotse said she had no option but to sleep with him.
The weird sex of the ‘Hockey Club’
In Phamotse’s book she recounts a phenomenon she describes as “the Hockey Club” that also sometimes involves powerful politicians and is based on real-life experiences.
In this “gentlemen’s club”, rich, influential men pay younger men to sleep with their wives as a way of managing their households. They want younger men they know so that they know who their wife is sleeping with.
It doesn’t stop there. Some of these powerful men sleep with the very young men who sleep with their wives.
The panel at the launch confirmed Phamotse’s account, saying the Hockey Club is all about power and entertainment, and about denting the ego and pride of the younger men.
Kunene, a famous former blesser, said that the practice was widespread among business executives and politicians.
“It must be traumatising for a woman to find out that her husband is in the Hockey Club and sleeping with young boys. Men are doing this thing for excitement and to fit in,” said Kunene.
Treasure, the main character in Bare, is distraught to find out that her blesser, Tim, a rich businessman, started a Hockey Club. She endures physical and sexual abuse from him but stays with him in exchange for a life of luxury.