Editor’s note: Michael Wynne is a resident of Grahamstown where he has volunteered and helped the community. Upon becoming the subject of a large controversy, he received much antagonism from Rhodes students in particular, with the Rhodes University student news outlet, the Oppidan Press, publishing a hit piece against him.
I don’t need to defend my actions.
I have been cleaning and fixing things around town because I want to.
I don’t need to defend what I say on Facebook either.
I had a bout of cat-and-mouse with a few unruly students and they took it too far.
What I do need to defend, however, is the “rape” incident.
I had spent the night going to a few local night clubs. At first, I had a wonderful time, but as the night wore on I noticed that young people were becoming heavily intoxicated. Some had already passed out and were lying on the ground, totally vulnerable and oblivious to the known thugs who were watching them. I knew they were thugs. I had had altercations with them in the streets while I was removing posters.
At one point I went to the loo and saw a woman lying with her head behind the toilet. She has passed out and was laying in urine and vomit. I tried to help her up, but failed to on account of her being too heavy. I found the bouncer at the door, told him, and was ignored.
I then looked for another bouncer, however, found none. Eventually, I made my way back to the toilet but she was gone.
On my way home I saw more thugs in the shadows. Some were holding sticks and one had a golf club. That particular thug had threatened me a few times in the last week. He was looking at a woman who was stumbling away and touching himself.
I stayed close to her until she met up with her friends. I ran home, changed into a hoodie and went back.
I was shocked at how many women were that intoxicated. Did they not know how vulnerable they had become? Did they not know the danger they were in? They were surrounded by thugs and sexual predators and they would not be able to defend themselves should an attack occur.
The next day I made a terrible mistake. I posted this on the Grahamstown page:
“The women were so drunk and high that if I was straight I could have taken them into the toilets and raped them.”
… or something to that effect.
I needed them to know how immediate the threat was. I needed them to know that there were threats everywhere. I needed them to be safe, but I had chosen the wrong words, and all hell broke loose.
I was attacked for 7 straight hours, being called a rape victim blamer. Even after I edited my post and apologised, the attacks kept coming. All the while, I received floods of inbox messages from women who told me about how they were raped in clubs and how I shouldn’t bring up the subject as it upset them.
They knew what could happen first hand – they went through that trauma. They knew that it would happen again, yet they attacked me for attempting to raise awareness of a very real problem. The attacks were relentless. My post was shared all over the place and not once did anyone share my edited version or my apology to those who I had upset. They turned me into a vile monster and overnight I lost all my support. Now I was a villain. My reputation was shattered.
I did not blame victims of rape. I was trying to prevent more from happening. I chose the wrong words. If anyone can point a finger at me, it would be for that and that alone. I did not deserve this…
I think these two silly girls are forgetting a few important things.
They have taken the “Batman” thing out of context. I don’t think I am Batman. I was nicknamed Batman by the Grocotts because I just happened to be wearing a shirt with a Batman logo on it when they made a video of me. It became my nickname – so what? It’s a cool nickname so I went with it as I am a huge Batman fan. It doesn’t mean that I actually see myself at Batman or any other kind of superhero.
I’m just a guy who cleans and fixes things in his free time and nothing more. I don’t have to pick up human waste. I don’t have to pick up litter. I don’t have to do squat, but I chose to, and suddenly I am judged for it. I am also judged for daring to put myself out there to show how great Grahamstown is. I am judged because I find problems, ask for advice on how to fix these problems, thank those who helped me. I dared post a few videos of myself thanking people. I utilized social media to help where I could. Does that mean that I was looking for attention? No, it means that I tried something new, and it worked.
After the dust from the rape incident settled down they kept attacking me online, and soon enough we were engaged in what I saw as friendly banter at first. They would be bitchy and I would be bitchy and we would try out bitch each other. It was fun, but after a while I noticed that they had become rather nasty and would viciously attack anyone who disagreed with them. One of them attacked the GRA (Grahamstown Residents Association) and made some horrible accusations about the people who work there and what they were doing. I countered her attack and proved her wrong. She then threatened to gather the students at the next meeting.
To do what, exactly? What makes her think she has the power to get the students to do her bidding? Does she think the students are stupid? Does she honestly think the students are her weapons to be used every time she loses an argument?
She threw a tantrum, insulted about 600 people, made further accusations and left the Facebook group.
This is a bully tactic. I will not be bullied and I will not let her and her little minions bully anyone else. I know she will read this, so here’s a message for her: the students are not your toys. The residents of Grahamstown are not your toys. We do not have to let you have your way every time you throw a frothy.
Lets discuss the article.
It starts off with a brief description of Batman, but ends up believing his real identity to be that of Harvey Dent. Batman’s real name is Bruce Wayne; do your homework, ladies.
Then it’s all about white privilege and Apartheid. None of this has anything to do with me or what I am doing.
It goes on and on about how I should listen to the community and see to their needs within the context of my “white privilege” and that I should stop doing whatever I’m doing for instant gratification. The majority of the article is about politics that has nothing to do with me or with what I was doing, but since we’re on the subject, let me tell you what I was doing.
I took down posters.
I cleaned streets.
I was providing food and clothing, via donations, for the poor.
I bricked up rooms that were being used as a dump and toilet that were unused and dangerous to the people in the soup kitchen. I was literally preventing the poorest of the poor from getting sick.
The recycling? Hold up! I’m an unemployed man who spends his free time fixing things.
I am not a politician. I am not some business tycoon and I am not employed by them. Who the hell are they to tell me what I should or should not be doing?
For the record, I have been mailing several recycling companies about getting proper recycling bins into all the schools and townships.
They didn’t know this. They didn’t bother to ask. Instead, they wrote a silly article to try and hurt me. It was a tantrum. It was irresponsible and absolute abuse of the press.
The Oppidan Press is written by Rhodes University students. Is this the kind of journalism they’re teaching nowadays? Does Rhodes University not oversee the content written by its students? This is not journalism. This is blatant bullying. Grahamstown residents should not have to live in fear of these particular “journalism” students.
SEE ALSO: Free Speech: A Vanishing Right by Mark Oppenheimer
Has this affected me? Yes, it has. All over town people make snide comments about me. My reputation is shattered and I will have a tough time finding work; but you know what? Apparently I am Batman and, like Batman, I will rise above this. I will still clean our home. I will still provide food and clothing for the poor and I will fight tooth and nail to keep everyone safe and happy.