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R10K for SMS lies to Zuma’s wife

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President Jacob Zuma's wife Nompumelelo Ntuli Zuma is led out of a Durban courtroom by prosecutor Krishen Shah, right, after testifying in the trial of Steven Masunga Ongolo. Photo: Sbonelo Ngcobo

Durban - President Jacob Zuma’s wife Nompumelelo Ntuli Zuma was “embarrassed” by messages which alleged she had had a child out of wedlock and had conspired to kill her bodyguard.

MaNtuli, as she is commonly known, testified in the case of Steven Masunga Ongolo in the Durban Regional Court on Tuesday. She refused to accept his apology.

Ongolo, 31, who is a Tanzanian national, pleaded guilty to three counts of crimen injuria and was fined R10 000 (or three months in jail) by magistrate Anand Maharaj.

He was referred to as Masunga in the Camperdown Magistrate’s Court when he first appeared, but the charge sheet in the Durban court stated that his middle name was Masunga and Ongolo was his surname.

Ongolo was arrested in January after MaNtuli opened a case of intimidation because of SMSes he sent to her.

In his plea, Ongolo said that the allegations he made against MaNtuli were lies.

“I was frustrated. I thought I would get into business because I was friends with the president’s wife.

“She said she would assist me, but nothing came of this. As time went by I became frustrated and it led to me sending the messages.”

He also said an SMS, purportedly from MaNtuli, that he had forwarded to a Sunday Tribune journalist, had been written by him.

Ongolo, who met MaNtuli and got her cellphone number at a Durban conference in 2009, apologised.

“I unreservedly apologise to Mrs Zuma and her extended family. What I did was wrong and caused her and her family harm.”

MaNtuli told the court she would not accept Ongolo’s apology.

“This has greatly affected me. It lowered my dignity. He insulted my child and said I committed adultery with him.

“He went to the media and degraded me and my husband.”

In the SMSes, Ongolo told MaNtuli he would tell Zuma that he (Ongolo) was the father of her child.

“Remember you went with me to his village in Ikanthla (sic) from the old Durban airport and we did book a room at holiday in (sic) hotel in Durban, you will have lots to explain to your husband.”

In another SMS, Ongolo alleged MaNtuli had a meeting at a Holiday Inn to have her bodyguard killed.

“Your people approached me with R300 000 to help you murder your guard and I refused.”

In replying SMSes, MaNtuli told Ongolo that she did not know who he was and she would report the matter to the police.

Ongolo’s legal aid attorney, Hycenth Mlotshwa, pleaded for leniency.

“He is a first-time offender and he has now come clean and set the record straight. He has also been in jail since January.”

Prosecutor Krishen Shah said since MaNtuli was Zuma’s wife, the SMSes had had huge implications for her family.

 

Maharaj told MaNtuli, who came to court with dozens of supporters, that she was still well-respected.

“The people who came with you all stood up when you walked in. They respect and support you,” Maharaj said.

MaNtuli replied that the people in court were not “the whole world”.

“He has been convicted. It cannot take away what happened, but it can be corrected,” said Maharaj.

He did not believe Ongolo should be given a lengthy jail term as he was a first-time offender and had pleaded guilty.

 

Ongolo, whose visitor’s permit expired in February, will be deported if he pays the fine, or when his three-month sentence has been served.

kamini.padayachee@inl.co.za

The Mercury


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