Mbongeni Ngema’s family dismisses second marriage

Theatre great Mbongeni Ngema will be laid to rest today. Photo archive

Theatre great Mbongeni Ngema will be laid to rest today. Photo archive

Published Jan 5, 2024


Durban — The family of internationally acclaimed playwright and lyricist Mbongeni Ngema said it did not know a woman that claimed to have married Ngema under customary law.

Ngema’s brother Nhlanhla Ngema told the Daily News on Thursday that the family was unaware of Ngema’s marriage to Yolanda Wanda Moncho except that he had heard that there was a woman who was managing his brother’s work.

“We heard about the letter which was said to have been written by a woman but we are not aware of her marriage to my brother except hearing that she was his manager.

“For now, we are focusing on burying my brother so we will deal with other things after the funeral,” said Nhlanhla.

On Tuesday Moncho penned a letter to the KwaZulu-Natal premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, asking her to intervene and facilitate an urgent meeting between herself and Ngema’s family, adding that the family was not involving her in the funeral arrangements.

The paper has seen a letter where Moncho threatened court action if the premier failed to resolve the matter between the parties.

She had earlier told the Daily News that the premier had only acknowledged the receipt of her email.

However, when the paper called her again on Thursday afternoon she said she was no longer commenting on the matter but promised to call a media briefing where she would reveal everything.

The woman from Soweto in Johannesburg, also claimed that she was the managing director and sole shareholder of Diamond Edge, a company that has been managing Ngema since 2019. Supporting her claim to be the customary wife, Moncho said Ngema sent a delegation to her family in 2021 which qualifies her to be his customary wife, adding that she was three months pregnant with Ngema’s child.

She said the reasons why she had decided to direct this correspondence to the premier was because of several unsuccessful attempts to get the family of the late Ngema to involve her in all the meetings and other discussions among themselves and government officials on memorial service(s) and the burial “of her husband”.

“I write to plead with your office to please facilitate an urgent meeting between myself and the family that will see Dr Ngema’s management company, Diamond Edge, and myself being actively involved in the discussions and the preparations for my client and husband’s memorial and funeral, in much the same way as other spouses of my husband.

“I wish to add here that my husband was not married to any one woman in terms of civil rights, we were all customary law wives.

“No wife should therefore rank more important over the other so far as planning and executing his last journey.

“As his official manager, I have worked closely with Dr Ngema, I am familiar with what he wanted on stage; it is for this reason that I wish to be actively involved in planning and executing what will effectively be his final shows, the memorial(s) and the burial.

“As his partner, Dr Ngema has over the years confided to me on a number of matters pertaining to his death and it is my sincere wish to ensure that these are carried through to the end. This will also assist with my own healing and eventual closure.

“I loved my husband, even in death, I love him. It remains my wish that his memorial(s) and burial proceed without any controversy, I am therefore hopeful that this request will find resonance with your esteemed office.

“However, in the unfortunate event that this does not happen, I will regrettably have to approach the courts on an urgent basis, to seek relief in this regard. It is my sincere hope and wish that this does not become necessary,” read the letter.

Dube-Ncube’s spokesperson Bongi Gwala confirmed that the Premier’s Office did receive the letter but was unsure whether the Premier had seen it. He added that he would have to find out.

Gwala said acknowledging receipt of the letter did not mean that the premier had seen it because all correspondences to her are received by her office, which processes them before reaching the premier.

In a statement issued by the Premier’s Office on Thursday afternoon, it did not say anything about the letter except to invite the media to cover Ngema’s funeral.

The paper understands that Moncho was not at the memorial service in Durban on Wednesday and only one wife known as Nompumelelo Gumede attended, but Moncho said Ngema never had a civil marriage and, therefore, all wives have equal status, including herself.

Ngema died last week in a car accident while he was on his way back from a funeral in the Eastern Cape. According to the family announcement, he would be buried on Friday under a category 2 special provincial funeral which was granted by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The funeral service would take place at Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre and he would be laid to rest at Heroes’ Acre Cemetery in Chesterville.

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