Mbuli de­nies fu­neral scams on late artists’ fam­i­lies

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - TOBY NGOMANE AND MODIEGI MASHAMAITE

“MY CON­SCIENCE is clear and I’m not a scam­mer.”

This was how the “peo­ple’s poet” Mzwakhe Mbuli yes­ter­day dis­missed al­le­ga­tions of cash­ing in on fel­low artists’ fu­ner­als and fraud­u­lently pock­et­ing some of the money do­nated to­wards their fu­neral costs.

Mbuli was the mas­ter of cer­e­monies at the fu­ner­als of kwaito star Mduduzi “Man­doza” Tsha­bal­ala and ac­tor Christo­pher “Gun­man” Kub­heka.

Mbuli trended on Twit­ter on Wed­nes­day and yes­ter­day after Power FM sports pre­sen­ter Thabiso Mosia posted tweets ac­cus­ing the poet and his group of leg­ends of scam­ming some artists’ griev­ing fam­i­lies.

Mosia tweeted: “Part of the scam (is) they ask the fam­ily how they can help (venue hire, food, trans­port, sound).They then go to min­is­ters/MECs to ask for the $$.”

In an­other tweet, the ra­dio pre­sen­ter wrote: “Mzwakhe also has a scam in­volv­ing the fu­neral pro­gramme and who speaks/speeches/ per­forms. This is one of the sad­dest, cos pas­tors are in­volved (sic).”

In the series of damn­ing tweets, Mosia, who claims to have been at all the meet­ings to or­gan­ise Man­doza’s fu­neral, fur­ther posted that “Mbuli and his group hired them­selves out as fu­neral plan­ners”.

“Mzwakhe wanted 70k to or­ga­nize sound for MDZ (Man­doza) fu­neral. We (fam) said no cos Arthur Mafokate was of­fer­ing his sound for free (sic). Mzwakhe threw a fit,” he added.

But Mbuli dis­missed the al­le­ga­tions as un­true and said he has doc­u­ments to prove that he isn’t a scam­mer.

The 59-year-old noted he had not of­fered to be the MC at the fu­ner­als, but rather that the fam­i­lies had in­sisted he be pro­gramme di­rec­tor.

“The wife of Man­doza (Mpho Tsha­bal­ala) as well as that of Gun­man asked me to be the pro­gramme di­rec­tor at both fu­ner­als,” he said.

Mbuli added that although he was sched­uled to un­dergo voice surgery, he will­ingly stepped in to help the leg­end’s widow, who des­per­ately needed a venue for her hus­band’s fu­neral just two days be­fore it was sched­uled to be held last year.

“She called me at 11pm to say that they don’t have a venue,” he said. “Be­fore Man­doza’s fu­neral, I had a voice op­er­a­tion and again I told them that they should get some­one else, but in­stead they voted that I should be the pro­gramme di­rec­tor,” he added.

Mbuli said that when the venue was found for the kwaito star’s fu­neral, it was paid for by the Gaut­eng Depart­ment of Arts and Cul­ture and that he didn’t pocket any money, as claimed.

Arts and Cul­ture spokesper­son No­mazwe Nt­lok­wana said they only paid the church that held the ser­vice for Man­doza’s fu­neral.

“The Gaut­eng Depart­ment of Sport, Arts, Cul­ture and Recre­ation would like to con­firm that, on be­half of the Gaut­eng gov­ern­ment, it paid for the fu­neral venue – Grace Bible Church in Soweto – an amount of R90 000,” said Nt­lok­wana.

Mbuli said he did not even know what was in the obit­u­ary of the Nkalakatha hit­maker and that he re­ceived the re­vised pro­gramme on the day of the fu­neral.

Mbuli said a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion oc­curred with the wife of Gun­man.

Mbuli blasted Mosia and said that if the sports pre­sen­ter had as­sisted the fam­ily, there would not have been any need for him to step in.

“The al­le­ga­tions against me are sim­ply false. I was not even part of the me­mo­rial plan­ning,” said Mbuli.

The peo­ple’s poet in­sisted that he did not charge to read po­ems at fu­ner­als, es­pe­cially if the fam­ily re­quested him to be the MC.

“I don’t charge, be­cause these peo­ple are griev­ing and mourn­ing. I don’t want to add to the fam­ily’s pain,” he added.

He said peo­ple who have ques­tions about the mat­ter should feel free to go and ask the fam­i­lies about him of­fer­ing his ser­vices for free.

When asked about his pos­si­ble part in Ray Phiri’s fu­neral, he said: “I have no role.”

Through all this, Mbuli said he had re­ceived mes­sages of sup­port. He has re­ferred the mat­ter to his lawyer and was wait­ing for le­gal ad­vice on how he should pro­ceed.

“I am fine though; this thing will come to pass. I have not com­mit­ted any crime.”

A mu­si­cian who per­formed at the Thank You SABC con­cert said she was not aware of the va­lid­ity of the ac­cu­sa­tions, but had had a “ter­ri­ble” ex­pe­ri­ence with Mbuli.

The artist, who re­quested to re­main anony­mous, ac­cused Mbuli of scam­ming those who had per­formed on the day.

“It was my un­der­stand­ing that we were paid less and that the money was given to Mzwakhe and that the money didn’t go where it was sup­posed to go.”

Mpho Tsha­bal­ala, Man­doza’s widow, said she was up­set that the sen­si­tive is­sue of her late hus­band’s fu­neral was be­ing brought into a neg­a­tive light once again.

She added that she had no prior knowl­edge of the tweets that Mosia had posted and that she was also not aware of what was be­ing said in them.

“If they have their own agen­das they must not in­clude my fam­ily,” said Mpho.

She had not spo­ken to Mosia, she said, adding that she did not know who was in­volved or how it all started.

“I’m just won­der­ing, where did it all start?”

NO FLEECER: The peo­ple’s poet Mzwakhe Mbuli dis­missed claims.

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