BABES Wodumo, the stage name of Bongekile Simelane, is our gqom sensation. She featured in Black Panther: The Album, produced by Kendrick Lamar, on a song called Redemption, and was nominated for the 2017 BET Award for Best International Act: Africa. In the early hours of yesterday, Wodumo was on Instagram Live, but she wasn’t online to engage with her fan base.
In a wide shot of her hotel room, Mampintsha is seen assaulting her. Although the original video was deleted, clips of it have been doing the rounds, especially on Twitter, where the video was trending all morning. Last May, Simelani went on record (on Metro FM) to reveal, for the first time, that her partner Mampintsha, frequent collaborator and one-third of Big Nuz (a Durban-based kwaito music trio) had allegedly been abusing her.
Their relationship told from the “rags-to-riches” narrative, has always been a tumultuous one. Metro FM DJ Masechaba Ndlovu received praise and criticism after confronting Simelani on radio (despite Simelani not wanting to comment) about abuse allegations. Ndlovu was on the brink of victim-blaming Simelani, urging her to leave Mampintsha. Simelani confirmed she broke up with Mampintsha in March last year, after he had allegedly punched and kicked her, to the extent of her sustaining a broken leg.
Simelani had earlier in the same interview admitted that the pair had split following this incident. She maintained that they were still partners in business but their romantic relationship had turned sour. This was also after she revealed that Mampintsha had access to her social media accounts, and had posted a picture of the couple without her consent – making it appear as though they were still together, even though they had split. Mampintsha went onto social media to post a video declaring his undying love for the Wololo hitmaker, asserting that she credits her success to him, and he still wants to marry her despite allegations of assault leveled against him.
Shortly afterwards, the two were seen rekindling their romance and all was seemingly forgotten. At around 1 am yesterday, Mampintsha was seen in an Instagram live recording, assaulting Simelani in a hotel room. Her followers witnessed the kwaito singer slapping her across the face more than once during an altercation. Simelani can be heard repeated crying out: “ungishaleyani?” – meaning “why are you beating me” in isiZulu – as blows rain down on her. The video concludes as Simelani grabs her phone, runs out of the room and the feed fades to black.
There has been no indication that Simelani has filed a case as yet. Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa did, however, on Twitter, encourage her to file a criminal case against Mampintsha. “We’re absolutely horrified by the actions of Musician Mampintsha @ MampintshaNuz caught on video where he brutally abuses internationally celebrated Artist @BABESWODUMO. We do not only condemn this senseless act but call on @ BABESWODUMO to immediately press charges against him,” (stet) the minister tweeted.
With over 1000 retweets and 1300 likes, Twitter user @Tioranta said: “The SA music scene is a sanctuary for abusive men. Mampintsha and Okmalumkoolkat still get booked. “Cleo posts tweets encouraging his rapist friend Brickz. Tira supports his dancer accused of rape and did nothing for Babes Wodumo. Take your pick there are many stories like this.” And this is the frightening reality of many South African women.
Simelani’s publicist tweeted from her account yesterday: “Greetings. We would like to thank everyone for the messages of support about the early morning video. “Unfortunately Babes can’t be able to have any interviews for now as she is still emotional about the situation. “She will issue the statement on her social media platform later today.”
The statistics on gender-based violence are a cause for much concern. It’s not the first time a South African man in the limelight is accused of abuse and protected by his celebrity. In 2011, Jub Jub was charged with domestic abuse after assaulting the mother of his child, singer Kelly Khumalo. In 2012, Euphonic was embroiled in a domestic violence case involving Bonang Matheba. In 2015, convicted rapist Brickz was accused of assaulting his then-girlfriend. Actress Reshoketswe Sebotsane recently opened up about her abusive marriage to actor-husband Sello Sebotsane. The list goes on and on.