CELLPHONE controls during the reed dance will be discussed at a meeting between organisers and the Zulu Royal household.
This after a 42-year-old man from Nelspruit was caught allegedly using his cellphone to photograph maidens at the reed dance festival at Enyokeni, kwaNongoma on Saturday. Police confirmed yesterday that child pornography and other pornographic images were found on a cellphone and laptop in the man’s possession.
Arts and Culture spokesperson Lethukuthula Mtshali said the man, who cannot be named until he appears in court, was spotted by the police hiding in the bushes in close proximity to the river where the maidens were bathing around 7 am.
“When the girls go for bathing, only women who play the role of marshals are allowed near the maidens. Police keep a distance and watch every movement in the vicinity. That’s when they spotted the man,” said Mtshali.
He said although there had been similar incidents in the past, security measures had been tightened, in an attempt to prevent such incidents happening again.
However, Mtshali was concerned about people accessing the event carrying cellphones that could be used for devious actions.
“Unfortunately we cannot confiscate people’s cellphones, but a message is that we will do more to beef up security. Each group of maidens had young women and guardians keeping a close eye on all photographers,” he said.
Yesterday provincial police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said the man was in custody and would appear in the Nongoma area court today.
“Other than the clips and photographs found in his cellphone, more child pornography was found on the man’s laptop. He was charged for possession of child pornography,” said Naicker. No other incidents were reported at the event, except that two maidens were injured after a marquee was blown down by the strong wind. The two were taken to hospital.
Zulu Royal household spokesperson Prince Thulani Zulu said the arrested man disregarded security measures “to take advantage of innocent girls”.
“These incidents are eye-openers and in our next meeting with Arts and Culture and other role players, we will look into the issue of cellphone control during the reed dance,” said Zulu.
Nomagugu Ngobese of the Pietermaritzburg-based Nomkhubulwane Culture and Youth Development Organisation said people need to be educated about cultural activities to stop them taking advantage of the reed dance “to feed perverted minds”.