The former wife of revered South African playwright Mbongeni Ngema,  Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema, has accused Sarafina protagonist Leleti Khumalo of being in an adulterous relationship with her former husband while they were married over 30 years ago.

The playwright's ex-wife who is the boss  of Johanessburg City Theatres, said she left Joburg in 1985 and went to KwaZulu-Natal to finish her degree, leaving the Sarafina crew, including Khumalo and her husband to continue with the work of the theatrical drama in preparation for a series of overseas performances.

She said she was shocked when she discovered that Khumalo and her husband were sleeping together. She lost it.

“Because I couldn’t deal physically with Mbongeni, I thought I should reach for the low hanging fruit. At the back of the hotel we were using as our base was the Oriental Plaza parking lot and in it there were some trees. I cut a nice steady switch from one of the branches. I took it back to the old hotel, back to the room I shared with Mbongeni.

  “The girls scuttled out of the room, screaming in shock. I fell on Leleti. I beat her. I beat her. But I was careful not to hit on her face. I also did not want to beat her on her legs. She had to go on the stage and perform the following day. So with my stick I concentrated on her body. She screamed, crying for mercy, crying for help. There was no mercy from me…’ After all I’ve done for you, you kick me in the face, bitch!’. I beat her at my own leisure, knowing that Mbongeni was still at Kippie’s Jazz Club drinking. I beat her until she was silent." 

She said when Mongeni returned, he intervened and started beating her with the switch she had beat Khumalo with. It was then she decided to end the marriage.

“I was in my early 20s, I was new in the marriage, no-one was guiding me about how you behave when your husband is kicking you. And this is a child who was under my care. It was a stressful period for me.

 “If this happened at a different time, I would have spoken to her instead of resorting to violence because I was experiencing violence. I am not a violent person, I just walk away from [bad] situations.”
Leleti now