The people's poet Mzwakhe Mbuli on Thursday dismissed allegations of cashing in on fellow artists’ funerals and fraudulently pocketing some of the money donated towards their funeral costs. File picture: Dumisani Dube
Johannesburg - “My conscience is clear and I'm not a scammer."

This was how the "people's poet" Mzwakhe Mbuli on Thursday 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 on Thursday 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?”

The Star