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