Acclaimed singer-songwriter and activist Simphiwe Dana has spoken out about an alleged physical attack she suffered at the hands of her ex-fiancé, Leshoto Itsweng.
Dana claims that the 45-year-old businessman assaulted her last month, on December 27. She laid charges of assault and intimidation at the Norwood Police Station in Gauteng three days later.
On the day of the alleged attack, she outed Itsweng on Instagram, posting a picture of him and this comment: “This guy spat in my face. Strangled me. Told me he would slit my throat and get away with it. Said his friend in the police force runs the province … I was intending to marry him. I don’t play that game. In a world where we have sleepless nights for our daughters, a man threatening me in this way will have all the wrath. His name is Leshoto Itsweng.”
Two sources with knowledge of the incident confirmed to City Press that it had occurred. They said only Dana and Itsweng were present when the alleged assault took place.
But this week, the singer got a shock when she was informed by the police that Itsweng had opened charges of assault and crimen injuria against her, at the same police station in Norwood.
On Thursday, she handed herself over at the police station. She was charged and detained in the holding cells.
However, the prosecutor has since withdrawn the charge against Dana, who says she will continue pursuing the case against her ex-fiancé.
Yesterday, Itsweng did not answer repeated phone calls made by City Press, nor did he react to any messages sent to his phone.
Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters confirmed to City Press that “a suspect was arrested on a charge of assault related to domestic violence [and crimen injuria] that was reported at Norwood Police Station. The suspect is out on bail and is expected to appear before the Hillbrow Magistrates’ Court on February 18.”
This week, Dana shared her ordeal in a lengthy statement issued by The Wise Collective, an organisation that supports abused women and children. In it, Dana said her experience was a disturbing revelation in how the criminal justice system could be manipulated to revictimise and harass victims of intimate-partner abuse.
“There appears to be an increasing trend of abusers laying counterassault charges against their victims as an intimidation tactic. The cell I was held in bears testament to this – it was full of domestic violence survivors whose partners had laid counter-charges,” Dana said.
“This, as the abusers well know, has the immediate effect of bullying victims into dropping the charges against their assailants. The swiftness with which the police respond to the counter-charges by imprisoning the survivor serves to perpetuate inequality and revictimisation. As things stand, pressing counter-charges is increasingly being used as a weapon to intimidate women into dropping charges.
“In a society where violence against women is such a scourge, surely this merits some kind of review?”
She stated her commitment to continue with her case and to seeing it through to the end.
The matter was withdrawn for further investigation, added Peters.