Court rules Inxeba is not hardcore porn

A scene from Inxeba - The Wound. Picture: Supplied

A scene from Inxeba - The Wound. Picture: Supplied

The award-winning film is set at a Xhosa initiation school in rural Eastern Cape and explores themes of masculinity, tradition and homosexuality.

The producers and distributors of the controversial Xhosa initiation film Inxeba (The Wound) have obtained a court order overturning the film’s hard core pornography rating.

Judge Joseph Raulinga today in the High Court in Pretoria set aside the X-rating imposed on the film by the Film and Publication Board’s Appeal Tribunal after complaints by the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) and the Man and Boy Foundation.

The X-rating meant that the film could only be viewed in “adult premises” such as sex shops and not in main stream cinemas, but the ruling reinstates the 16 LS rating initially imposed by the Film and Publication Board.

The Judge found that the two cultural organisations had no standing to appeal to the Appeal Tribunal and that the Tribunal had no jursidiction to determine their appeal. He said the organisations should have taken the Board’s decision on review if they were dissatisfied.

He also found that the film’s producers were not given a proper opportunity to participate in the tribunal’s decision and that its chairperson had flagrantly disregarded their right to be heard, and to respect their dignity and worth.

The film, which has won numerous international and local awards, is set at a Xhosa initiation school in rural Eastern Cape and explores themes of masculinity, tradition and homosexuality.

The Judge stressed that the majority of African people believed initiation to be sacred and that sexual intercourse was a taboo subject in that context. Secrecy was sacrosanct and deeply entrenched.

He said if cultural beliefs and practices were to be considered, the film was indeed harmful and disturbing and exposed 16-year-olds to the sexual conduct depicted in the film. It included language which was degrading to Xhosa women and exposed women to societal violence such as rape.

It contained harmful scenes which could cause tensions within the Xhosa community and even within the broader African community, and affected the rights of the Xhosa traditional group, he added.

He said the tribunal had weighed up the competing cultural rights and the right to freedom of expression and although one might find that its decision was well-founded, it was not for the court to pronounce on the lawfulness of their decision.

ALSO READ: Why traditional leaders are opposed to ‘Inxeba’

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