‘Somizi hurt my feel­ings’

An off-the-cuff re­mark by ‘Som­gaga’ at the Samas has left singer Za­hara heart­bro­ken. Now she is con­sid­er­ing le­gal ac­tion

CityPress - - News - NTOMBIZODWA MAKHOBA ntombizodwa@city­press.co.za

STALK TO US Do you think this mat­ter should be han­dled by the courts? ong­bird Za­hara feels Somizi Mh­longo be­trayed her when he made “reck­less com­ments” about her al­leged drink­ing prob­lem at the SA Mu­sic Awards (Samas).

“Somizi is like a brother to me, I used to con­fide in him when I was go­ing through tough times. I trusted him and for him to make such com­ments ... I was re­ally hurt and dis­ap­pointed. He is a big star. I look up to him, he should have known bet­ter,” said an emo­tional Za­hara, whose full name is Bulelwa Mku­tukana.

Mh­longo was a co-host at the Samas, held at the Sun City Su­per­bowl in North West on May 27. He joked, say­ing: “We are al­most at the end of the show. There is an amaz­ing af­ter-party, where is Za­hara? Is she al­ready at the bar?”

This week, Za­hara threat­ened to sue Mh­longo for the hurt­ful stab in the back, but Mh­longo quickly apol­o­gised: “I only men­tioned the bar and her name, not al­co­hol. But if that of­fended her, I am sorry. I did not mean to hurt or harm her. It was just a joke.

“Askies, Za­hara, I was just hav­ing fun. I joked about a lot of peo­ple, in­clud­ing Khanyi Mbau that she was white. I made a joke about Babes Wo­dumo and she was laugh­ing.”

How­ever, Za­hara said Mh­longo’s apol­ogy was weak and her le­gal team would soon be serv­ing him with a “let­ter of de­mand”.

City Press caught up with Za­hara at her home in a West Rand sub­urb. In her spa­cious lounge, filled with pic­turesque dis­plays of her sev­eral awards, she boldly de­clared: “This is my home – the same house the me­dia says I’ve lost.”

Za­hara said the rea­son she wanted to take the le­gal route was that pre­vi­ous neg­a­tive com­ments had played a huge role in dam­ag­ing her image.

She be­lieves that bad pub­lic­ity robbed her of lu­cra­tive con­tracts, re­sult­ing in a neg­a­tive ef­fect on her mu­sic ca­reer.

“My con­tract of five years with Ned­bank was never re­newed be­cause of bad pub­lic­ity. I’ll be su­ing ev­ery­one who says bad things about me with­out facts,” she re­solved.

“Both of us [me and Mh­longo] know that it was not a joke. It was not scripted ... it was his own words. It hurt me,” she said with tears rolling down her cheeks.

She pauses to catch her breath. “We should have ironed things out, but I feel he doesn’t care be­cause he isn’t an­swer­ing my calls.”

She said the me­dia was obliv­i­ous of her pub­lic de­vel­op­ment activities. “I am helping young peo­ple in my vil­lage us­ing my own money. I fly SA’s flag high in­ter­na­tion­ally ... How do I go back to the vil­lage and in­spire the same young girls?” she asks. Za­hara runs a foun­da­tion called Za­hara Army, which pro­motes young stars play­ing indige­nous games. Thebe Ikalafeng, brand­ing ex­pert and head of strat­egy at Brand Lead­er­ship, said it was doubt­ful that Za­hara could prove that Mh­longo’s “reck­less com­ments” dam­aged her image or brand.

“She would have to prove cor­re­la­tion and causal­ity, and that such com­ments in­deed harmed her fi­nan­cially or [dam­aged] her rep­u­ta­tion.”

Ikalafeng ar­gued that he didn’t think Mh­longo had been “ma­li­cious”, but rather “mis­chievous”.

He added that the case might be valid, but only if Za­hara could prove that Mh­longo had af­fected the value of her brand – pos­si­bly in terms of [loss of] book­ings, en­dorse­ments and [a neg­a­tive] per­cep­tion by the broader pub­lic.

“It is not a new rev­e­la­tion; in var­i­ous publi­ca­tions, Za­hara has been dis­pelling al­le­ga­tions that she is an al­co­holic. Un­for­tu­nately, she is in­vari­ably keep­ing the ru­mours alive,” said Ikalafeng.

“Peo­ple are not go­ing to think any less or more of Za­hara than they al­ready [do] ... it’s in the pub­lic do­main. It is im­por­tant that celebri­ties un­der­stand the con­tract they have with the pub­lic,” Ikalafeng said

PHOTO: SIL­VER SIBIYA

GUT PUNCH Singer Za­hara speaks to City Press at her home in the west of Johannesburg

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