Tears flow as singer vows to bounce back


“I’m sorry.” Those are the only words R&B singer Cici wanted to hear from her exboyfriend and for­mer boss, Arthur Mafokate. But they never came.

As tears rolled down her face, Cici — real name Bu­sisiwe Th­wala — re­vealed this week that the mes­sage be­hind her lat­est sin­gle,

Iqin­iso, was about her ex­pe­ri­ence with the kwaito king.

In June she laid a com­plaint of as­sault against the mu­si­cian, who in turn laid a counter com­plaint against her. They have since been em­broiled in a court bat­tle.

The 30-year-old al­leges that she needed pelvic surgery af­ter a vi­o­lent in­ci­dent at the cou­ple’s home in Midrand. At the time she was signed to Mafokate’s record la­bel, 999.

This week Cici gave the Sun­day Times an emo­tional ac­count of what the past few months have been like for her.

“It’s still very hard, only be­cause I feel that some­one is not be­ing gen­uine about what they did,” she said. “All I re­ally wanted from this en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence was for some­one to say, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it,’ rather than to go on a me­dia ram­page and say things that are not true.”

A com­bi­na­tion of stub­born­ness, pas­sion and pain med­i­ca­tion were get­ting her through every day, she said. Her pelvic bone is held to­gether with screws and al­though she is not ready to per­form, Cici has started danc­ing. Doc­tors told her that her in­juries might mean she can­not bear chil­dren.

“As painful as it is, it’s show­biz, and un­less you’re dead the show must go on,” she said. “The [sur­gi­cal] scar will never go away. I try not to look at it be­cause it just re­minds me of what I’ve been through.”

Amid sup­port from fans, a few peo­ple have crit­i­cised Cici for speak­ing out about Mafokate’s al­leged abuse. But what has re­ally hurt is the lack of sup­port from the mu­sic in­dus­try.

“I re­ally haven’t re­ceived any sup­port from fel­low peo­ple in the in­dus­try. Some­times peo­ple look at their brand and what they want to as­so­ci­ate their brands with,” she said. “And some­times peo­ple are scep­ti­cal be­cause there are women who speak out and then they turn around two months later and they are back in that re­la­tion­ship.”

Through­out the in­ter­view, Cici avoided men­tion­ing Mafokate’s name, re­fer­ring to him only as “that per­son”. She said this was be­cause he was “ir­rel­e­vant” in her life, and she wanted to avoid be­ing ac­cused of try­ing to tar­nish his brand as she set out on the road of for­give­ness and mov­ing on with her life.

She has changed her phone num­ber twice to avoid his calls, which she said in­volved Mafokate “try­ing to jus­tify what he did”.

“By say­ing ‘for­give­ness’, I’m not say­ing I’m drop­ping the case, but I have to for­give for me,” she said. “So whether he was sorry or not, I felt like the ball was in my court and I needed to let go in or­der for me to start the heal­ing process — to move on with my life and pick my­self up.”

Cici wept as she ex­plained that Iqin­iso, mean­ing “truth”, was a way for her to break the si­lence on abuse and search for an­swers to all the ques­tions she had about her re­la­tion­ship with Mafokate.

Scared to walk away

“I just wanted to know, if some­one says they love and care about you, would they put you through what they’ve put you through?” she said. “I ba­si­cally just wanted to know how gen­uine this per­son was about what they said.”

The Ru­n­away hit­maker ad­mit­ted she had been scared to walk away from her re­la­tion­ship and ig­nored all the warn­ing signs. But af­ter all the sleep­less nights, as her body healed she was fi­nally find­ing her­self again.

“This is not nec­es­sar­ily who I am; I am not my ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said. “This has hap­pened to me and I will get plat­forms where I will speak to other women, but this is not my brand. I am not a bro­ken woman.”

Mafokate told the Sun­day Times: “I am not try­ing to be rude but I would rather re­frain from talk­ing about this mat­ter, as it is sub ju­dice, and will def­i­nitely com­ment about it when the right time avails it­self.”

Cici’s mes­sage to abused women: “We need to start teach­ing our women to be stronger, to be more re­silient and to be more in­de­pen­dent.”

Wip­ing away tears, Cici said the ex­pe­ri­ence would not change her and that she was busy writ­ing a book about her life.

“A part of me did not die that night,” she said.

Pic­tures: Alon Skuy

Cici before her pelvic in­jury and surgery. Right, Cici can’t hold back the tears as she re­calls a dif­fi­cult time with her ex, Arthur Mafokate, some­one she now refers to only as ‘that per­son’. Cici’s mes­sage: “We need to start teach­ing our women to be stronger, to be more re­silient and to be more in­de­pen­dent

Pic­ture: Veli Nh­lapo

For­mer celebrity cou­ple Cici and Arthur Mafokate at the South African Film and Tele­vi­sion Awards last year.

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