Last month, The Citizen wrote an article about DA MP Phumzile Van Damme sharing screenshots of an email she received from an anonymous scamster trying his luck with an extortion attempt by pretending to have compromising video footage of her sex life.
The headline quoted his empty threat to her that he would leak her “passionate funs with adult content”. This created the incorrect impression among many on, particularly, social media that Van Damme may in fact have had a sex tape out there, which was obviously not the case.
They clearly hadn’t read the story and had no idea what was actually going on.
That, according to Van Damme, didn’t stop them from having a whale of a time spreading the false rumour that Van Damme had a sex tape, with this news also coming in the unfortunate wake of the actual Malusi Gigaba sex tape.
News24 also reported on the scam email, perhaps contributing to the perception that such a sex tape may exist. Their headline said: ‘Sexual content’: DA’s Van Damme unfazed by threatening email.
Let’s be clear: The sex tape does not exist. It never did. There is no sex tape.
Far be it from people seeing a funny side to any of this, which had been the initial intention, Van Damme claims she was then targeted by numerous creepy people who said creepy things to her. She said she even received tweets from strange men telling her they were waiting with their Vaseline to look at her alleged sex tape (shudder).
She said on Thursday morning that she blames The Citizen for the perception that she now has a sex tape doing the rounds.
The email scammers are trying hard shame. Unshaken. No bitcoin transfer coming from me. pic.twitter.com/ANTymmaHTf
— Phumzile Van Damme (@zilevandamme) November 15, 2018
The article and misperceptions it had created had caused “significant damage” to her reputation.
She asked for an apology from the digital editor, Charles Cilliers, while saying that she knew one wouldn’t be coming.
She added that she believed her colleague, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen, was right to block The Citizen.
I’m sorry to have learnt about the reaction you received from our story and the abuse it generated. Yesterday I was still thinking this isn’t a big deal and you may have initially overreacted, but it could certainly not have been pleasant to have to deal with these perceptions we created and the unpleasantness associated with it.
The abuse of women is an awful affliction in our society and I apologise unreservedly for having contributed to the experience of it in your case. It truly wasn’t our intention and we shall do everything we can in future to avoid an experience like this reoccurring for you or any other person.
Once again, please accept my humblest apologies. We have updated the headline to something far less misleading, or, if you prefer, we can delete the story altogether.