No one could ignore Zodwa Wabantu during the past festive season as she broke the Internet. In one of the local concerts, she could be seen taking off her underwear during a performance. She was one of the most booked performers in Botswana this past festive season and most of her fans wanted to see and others notably touch her. She was a darling for event promoters because they knew very well that she would pull crowds to their shows. South African Reality TV star and dancer, Zodwa, sold out shows in Botswana. But this came at a cost in the end as the Botswana Police Service (BPS) came growling with a warrant of arrest issued against her.
He said as the police they would like to resolve this issue with Zodwa after the dancer allegedly broke the law in the shows she performed at this past festive season. Bagali said Zodwa has been charged with traffic in obscene publications. According to section 178 Subsection 1(e) of the Penal code of Botswana, traffic in obscene publications in this case means any person who publicly exhibits any indecent show or performance or any show or performance tending to corrupt morals. Therefore, if Zodwa is found guilty of the offence, she is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine not exceeding P200.
One of the promoters who booked Zodwa this festive season disclosed that he was harassed by the police after his show. He said the police kept calling him to the police station for questioning. “They couldn’t give me a break, they kept asking me where she was but the thing is, I was not the only promoter who booked her, I shared her with a couple of promoters that night,” he highlighted. He said even though the police stopped harassing him when they couldn’t find Zodwa anywhere in the country, he was treated like he had broken the law at the concert. He said people paid to see Zodwa perform which she ultimately did.
Now the harassment of event promoters after the Zodwa performance during festive season means that the dancer is unlikely to be booked by anyone soon. Also, Zodwa’s warrant of arrest means that music promoters will miss out on an opportunity to book the dancer and pull crowds. Whereas a number of people on social media felt that the police had no right to issue a warrant of arrest against the South African entertainer, the law is clear about acts of obscenity and indecency which were allegedly committed by Zodwa as she removed her panties live on stage. While others felt that Zodwa’s performances promoted misogynistic attitudes, some described Zodwa as a strong, independent and talented woman.
What Zodwa does as seen during her performances and in videos on social media is some form of striptease. A striptease is an erotic or exotic dance in which the performer gradually undresses, either partly or completely, in a seductive and sexually suggestive manner. Even though the police assert that Zodwa committed nuisances and offences against health and convenience, the turnout at her shows has now raised a debate that some Batswana have been longing this form of adult entertainment however illegal it is.
With many laws changing in the past few years, among others the landmark case which decriminalised same sex relations, some people now have hope that everything is possible. Fans of such form of entertainment want Botswana to follow the example of many countries, where strip clubs are legal and there are licensing laws for sexual entertainment venues. They feel that the government should pass a legislation which makes it legal for businesses to profit from such acts like lap dancing, stripping and pole dancing.
Before even Zodwa stepped in the country, there has always been rumour that in Botswana exotic dancing is being done illegally and underground in an unsafe environment outside of regulation. The underground gentlemen’s club as they are called are considered to be promoting all forms of commercial sexual exploitation and violence against women no wonder some feel it is now time for stripteasing to stop being outlawed but instead be suppressed or regulated. A gentlemen’s club is a nightclub for men that features scantily clad women dancers or stripteasers.
But with many topics like abortion and prostitution having caused heated debates in the past, perhaps Zodwa has put stripteasing on the table and it might be subject to changing legal and cultural attitudes on moral and decency grounds. Some countries do not have any restrictions on performances of striptease.