The mystery surrounding “resurrected” maskandi singer Kwakhe “Mgqumeni” Khumalo deepened yesterday, with two of his common-law wives and his maternal grandmother joining the fray and confirming that he had indeed “come back from the dead”.
The posting of photographs comparing Khumalo and a man who claims to be him on the singer’s Facebook fan page yesterday also heightened the speculation, with some fans questioning the resemblance.
Until the man’s emergence last Sunday, Khumalo’s family believed that he had died in December 2009, on his way to a traditional healer.
He was buried by his family in KwaGxobanyawo cemetery in a high-profile funeral in early 2010, attended by politicians, top radio personalities and scores of fans.
But news of his “emergence” last weekend has confounded locals in Nquthu and legions of the award-winning muso’s fans countrywide, many of whom continued to descend to his home throughout this week.
Khumalo’s family has planned a press conference to be held in Nquthu today where, it is hoped, the record will be set straight over the matter.
Police have already taken the man’s fingerprints to help determine his identity and have applied for permission to exhume the grave where the singer was buried for further pathological tests.
And after giving brief details of his disappearance on Ukhozi FM on Friday, the man sparked a flurry of calls, with callers questioning the now different tone of his voice and the faster pace of his speech.
Nomkhosi Mbatha and Thembi Ntombela said yesterday that after seeing their husband and spending some time with him, they needed no further convincing that it was him. His daughter, Amanda, said her father had been the first to recognise her, calling her by name.
Khumalo’s maternal grandmother Zintombi Mseleku said she knew the moment she set her eyes on her grandson that it was him.
“There is no way I can get confused over Kwakhe, it really is him. He is looking a little worn, and his cheeks are less chubby, but it’s him,” she said, her eyes welling with tears of joy.
“I went in and looked at him. I called him and asked him if he knew who I was, and he said, ‘You’re my grandmother, MaSibiya. I looked at his feet and hands and I was satisfied that it is him.”
Mseleku said her grandson had told her that he had been held captive by unknown people for the past two years.
His trademark dreadlocks had been cut by his captors to prepare for the installation of a nail in his head, which would have been the final stage of a process to turn him into a tokoloshe (a mythical short man created by witchdoctors).
It was only when he saw two elderly men who told him to go home, that he escaped from his captors.
As news of Mgqumeni’s “return” spread earlier this week, rumours were that Khumalo had been a victim of ukuthwetshulwa, whereby a person’s spirit is “captured” soon after his death.
Responding to the reports, University of KwaZulu-Natal Zulu Studies lecturer, Ndela Ntshan-gase, said the practice was a science of black people who worked with different kinds of muti.
“According to those we have spoken to when conducting research, ukuthwetshulwa is done when the person has just died where their spirit is ‘captured’,” he said.
Ntshangase said after the spirit was “captured” it then became that person again, but only the “captor” and those whom they had chosen could see that person.
“Basically that person will do whatever is asked of them by the ‘captor’ without being seen by anybody else. The ‘captors’ don’t seek permission from that individual’s family to do so. They just take it (the spirit) and the family buries their loved one without knowing,” he said.
Having heard about “Khumalo’s” alleged return from the dead, Ntshangase’s words were: “We live and learn. If that were to be true, we would love to know how it happened and do research on him.”
Although the media was barred from speaking to him yesterday, the man who insists he is Khumalo emerged from the house three times, greeting the scores of people gathered at the homestead.
Dressed in denim shorts, a colourful T-shirt and a hat, his first emergence drew an animated response from the crowd who appeared unanimous in their belief that “it’s him”.
On Friday, he told The Witness that he was looking forward to seeing the grave in which he was allegedly buried, and to know who was lying there.
“I was not dead, but I was staying with the animals and toko-loshes in a jungle in Joburg’s Driefontein.
“A lot of muthi was used by my captors to try and turn me into a zombie.”
Earlier this week, provincial police spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge, spoke on Ukhozi FM confirming that police were investigating reports from people who said they had seen Mgqumeni.
Mdunge said that police were considering applying to the high court for an order to exhume Khumalo’s body. However, since speaking on radio, Mdunge said he could no longer comment further following orders from his office. - Tribune