AUTHOR and radio presenter Redi Tlhabi is standing by her story.
This follows a protracted dispute between her and an Orlando East family who have laid claim to two of the characters in her book Endings & Beginnings.
The family have disputed the veracity of certain facts in the book that they say relate to them.
The Citizen broke the story of the dispute on April 21.
In a string of articles published by the newspaper, the family, who identified themselves as the Mapitses, labelled the book “a complete lie”.
The book’s blurb, by the publishers Jacana, reads that when Tlhabi was 11 years old, two years after her father’s death, she met the handsome, charming and smooth Mabegzo.
Mabegzo – a rumoured gangster, murderer and rapist – is a veritable “jackroller of the neighbourhood, yet against her family’s wishes, Tlhabi forms a strong connection to him”.
His birth name in the book is Mahlomola.
Tlhabi’s book describes him as a gangster who rapes his own mother, identified only as Imelda from Lesotho.
“Imelda” is said to have abandoned her Mabegzo as an infant.
The family have said the notorious gangsters portrayed in the book are their late sons, Mahlomola “Mabegzo Tlhapi” Mapitse and Thabo Mapitse – who was nicknamed Tara, and not Tora as in the book.
The Mapitse family have disputed in the media that Mamiponi – Mabegzo and his brother Tara’s mother – was raped or that she abandoned her child.
The family are also reportedly furious that Tlhabi did not consult them before portraying them as dysfunctional.
In a full response to the slew of articles, Tlhabi said she was “completely stunned” when she heard a family had laid claim to her protagonist, Mabegzo.
She has firmly maintained that the book is not about the Mapitse family and that it was coincidental that the names of her characters were the same as those of the Mapitse brothers.
She said she had no idea there was an actual person called Mabegzo, adding she had used the name as in the plural form “AboMabegzo”, referring to a group of young men who had been out to victimise and violate girls in the late 1980s.
Another point of contention is that the book was being marketed as autobiography and biography, but Tlhabi said she didn’t write it as such.
“Endings & Beginnings has always been marketed as a memoir. The publisher can confirm this,” she said.
She told The Star that she did not believe the allegations against her book would mar her winning of the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for non-fiction last year.
Jacana, the book’s publishers, had not responded to The Star by the time of publication.
The Young Communist League, meanwhile, has lashed out at Tlhabi in a statement, calling on her to stop using her “media platform to attack the family”.
The league said she should engage the family and address their concerns.
Tlhabi said: “I am sorry that the Mapitses feel aggrieved, but if they were interested in talking this out, they would have come to me.” - The Star