South African anti-drink driving campaign draws flak for faking celebrity's car crash

South African rapper Nomuzi Mabena on the film set of the fake car crash.
South African rapper Nomuzi Mabena on the film set of the fake car crash. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM TWITTER/@ARRIVE_ALIVE

A young woman films a live Instagram video of herself in a car excitedly talking to viewers. Suddenly, there is a loud screech and a crash, as the phone flies from her grip to show a smashed windscreen.

Seeing this video on any ordinary person's Instagram feed would be enough to shock most people, but when the person filming the video was South African rapper Nomuzi Mabena, social media erupted.

Mabena first posted several photos on her social media pages on Thursday (Jan 10) implying that she had been drinking and driving. Shortly after, she posted a live video of herself in a car on Instagram, appealing for aspiring artists to sign with her label.

"So if you know any singers, dancers, rappers, DJs, DJs who can sing, dance, and rap-" she says, before being cut off by what appeared to be a car crash.

Those watching the feed reacted immediately. "What just happened", user @byshadile commented less than a second after the "crash". Others took to social media to try and find out if Mabena was alright, with some using the hashtag #PrayForNozumi.

However, on Friday, Mabena revealed that the whole accident was fake and a part of a campaign in partnership with Volkswagen South Africa and the Drive Dry initiative, a South African anti-drink driving campaign.

Calling for others to pledge their support for the campaign, she wrote on Instagram: "I partnered with @volkswagensouthafrica and @drivedry to make a change in 2019. We don't want to see another year where thousands of lives are lost on our roads because of drinking & driving."

Volkswagen also released a video showing the making of the "accident", which carries a voiceover of Mabena saying: "We've all done it, we've all lost ourselves over the festive season without thinking we may lose our lives. But the risk is real."

Some netizens felt the campaign was done well. @alisasha_sibanyoni wrote: "I really loved the campaign. It had to happen for people to see the seriousness of drinking and driving or texting and driving."

However, many were upset. @landiimajola commented: "(Mabena) has fans that she did not think of and even relatives that were not briefed of such an advert... next time rather please be sensitive with such advertisements or rather have a disclaimer..."

@uYesuKrestu wrote: "My children wasted their prayers and you played with their emotions (and) you can't even say sorry..."

According to South African road safety website, there have been close to 14,000 deaths on the road every year for the last three years. More than half of these were caused by drink driving.