In a revelation that has set the South African theater scene abuzz, the indomitable ex-wife of renowned playwright Mbongeni Ngema, Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema, has spilled the dramatic beans on a clandestine love affair.
This theatrical tale, shrouded in secrecy for far too long, has been unveiled in the pages of Nduneni-Ngema’s memoir, aptly titled “Heart of A Strong Woman,” penned by the seasoned wordsmith, Fred Khumalo.
The saga unfolds as Nduneni-Ngema, now at the helm as the CEO of Joburg City Theatres, takes us on a time-traveling journey back to 1985. At that juncture, she chose to pursue her degree in KwaZulu-Natal, temporarily parting ways with the Sarafina crew, including her then-husband and the enigmatic Leleti Khumalo, as they tirelessly prepared for overseas performances.
A pivotal moment in the narrative, it’s worth noting that Nduneni-Ngema was the financial custodian of Mbongeni’s theater company, Committed Artists.
As the threads of this melodrama unraveled, Nduneni-Ngema began receiving cryptic messages from the company’s director about covert romances brewing among the cast and crew. During one of her extensive phone conversations with Mbongeni, she was informed that Khumalo was ailing, suffering from ulcers.
Join 'Mzansi Trending' on WhatsApp "Mzansi Trending" keeps you in the know about the hottest entertainment news in South Africa. From celebrity gossip to the latest soapie releases!
🌍🌟 Yoin our channel for daily updates on what's trending and make sure you never miss a beat in the world of South African entertainment. 🇿🇦🌟 🚀
Ever the considerate soul, Nduneni-Ngema proposed that Khumalo be brought to her family home in Daveyton, where she could receive the tender care she needed. Leleti was ushered into the embrace of Nduneni-Ngema’s family, where she convalesced under the watchful eyes of her partner’s kin. Little did Nduneni-Ngema suspect that this gesture would eventually lead to heartache.
The turning point in this sordid tale came when Nduneni-Ngema’s mother issued a cryptic warning upon Khumalo’s return from Durban. She cautioned her daughter about Khumalo’s intimate rapport with Mbongeni, claiming the two would engage in cozy exchanges when he visited her. However, Nduneni-Ngema brushed aside her mother’s reservations, dismissing the notion that Khumalo, a younger cast member, could be involved in such a liaison.
But as the pages of this story continued to unfold, the reality became impossible to ignore. The covert relationship between Khumalo and her husband became common knowledge, and it ignited a tempestuous reaction within Nduneni-Ngema.
In a bold and somewhat unorthodox move, Nduneni-Ngema decided to confront the situation head-on in 1987. Unable to grapple with Mbongeni physically, she sought out an alternative outlet for her frustrations. Armed with a sturdy switch cut from a nearby tree, she launched a clandestine mission to her shared quarters with her spouse.
When she caught wind that the rest of the cast had returned from a downtown Johannesburg theater, she ushered the female members, excluding Khumalo, from the room. What ensued was a theatrical performance of a different kind, as Nduneni-Ngema wielded her switch with precision, focusing her fury on Khumalo’s body to ensure her stage performance remained unscathed.
As the ordeal unfolded, Khumalo’s pleas fell on deaf ears, her cries for mercy and assistance unanswered. No quarter was given, no reprieve offered, as Nduneni-Ngema vented her pent-up frustration, all while being mindful not to leave a mark on Khumalo’s face or legs. Her savage assault continued until a return by Mbongeni, who intervened and turned the switch on his ex-wife.
This fateful incident marked the beginning of the end for their tumultuous marriage, with Nduneni-Ngema’s violent outburst potentially rooted in a long list of Mbongeni’s extramarital dalliances. His infidelity was a glaring concern, from an affair with singer Tu Nokwe to his involvement with Khumalo.
Abuse was evidently not limited to emotional turmoil, as Nduneni-Ngema recounted an incident when Mbongeni parked outside her parents’ home and subsequently vandalized her car’s windshield during one of their heated disputes. He also bizarrely pelted her with a plate of food in front of their colleagues, leaving her humiliated and stunned.
This troubling pattern of abuse even extended to a disturbing point where Mbongeni insisted that Nduneni-Ngema feed him, spoonful by spoonful, in a bizarre display of control. Each piece of meat demanded precision and care, a stark contrast to the turbulence that defined their relationship.
As if that wasn’t enough, tales of hidden panties and compromising encounters at home in the US, as well as further incidents of infidelity, cast a shadow over their troubled union. Despite these grim circumstances, Nduneni-Ngema’s memoir serves as a candid testimony to her resilience and unwavering strength in the face of adversity.
In a surprising twist of fate, Leleti Khumalo would go on to marry Mbongeni, although their own journey had its share of ups and downs. The final chapter in this captivating saga is a stark reminder of the complexities that often reside beneath the polished exterior of showbiz.