Ngema’s ‘wife’ falls ill after threatening to interdict funeral

The woman who claims to be the customary wife of late award-winning playwright Mbongeni Ngema says she collapsed this week while mourning her husband. She also threatened to interdict the government from organising his burial. However, the funeral went ahead without any disruptions from her as promised.

Yolanda “Wanda” Moncho said she has not been feeling well since Ngema’s death, and that  doctors attended to her at home.

When asked if the office of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube had responded to her letter of demand, she declined to comment. She cited ill-health as the reason for her inability to comment on the issue.

“I am not well. I actually collapsed,” she said.

After falling ill, she was taken to the doctor, who subsequently made home visits.

Moncho said she will not be able to respond [regarding the letter sent to Dube-Ncube] because she was not in a position to do so.

She also declined to comment on the status of her health.

Moncho’s lawyer, advocate Christopher Shabangu, said he does not know if Dube-Ncube’s office has responded to their letter. He referred Sunday World to Moncho’s public relations advisor Pearl Maake kaNcube.

However, Maake kaNcube declined to comment on whether Dube-Ncube’s office has responded to Moncho’s letter.

“I am not at liberty to comment. Our main concern is her [Moncho’s] well-being and health. This [Ngema’s death] is taking a toll on her. We do not want to comment because we do not want to overexpose her,” said Maake kaNcube.

Premier unavailable for comment 

KZN provincial government spokesperson Bongi Gwala said he could not respond on whether Dube-Ncube has any comment regarding the letter because he was attending Ngema’s funeral at the Durban ICC on Friday.

This is despite Dube-Ncube’s office receiving the letter on Tuesday and Gwala being sent media enquiries on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday regarding the premier’s response on the letter.

Moncho’s lawyers wrote a letter dated January 2 2024, which was directed to the office of the KZN premier Dube-Ncube. In it, Moncho states that she will interdict the government-organised funeral should she be excluded from Ngema’s funeral preparations. She demands the government to recognise her as Ngema’s wife in its funeral programme. Sunday World has seen the letter.

Moncho, who says she is four-months pregnant with Ngema’s child, also demanded that government speaks to her on any issue related to the funeral. She wanted government to stop speaking to Ngema’s younger brother Nhlanhla Ngema about the matter.

The letter was also addressed to the offices of the KZN provincial government director-general, KZN MEC for sports, arts and culture, KZN police commissioner Lt-Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, office of the president of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, minister of sports, arts and culture Zizi Kodwa and Ngema’s younger brother Nhlanhla Ngema.

We are grieving

Nhlanhla Ngema said he is aware of the letter and has seen it but declined to comment on its contents.

“As a family we have heard about the letter. We are focusing on laying to rest uBaba [Ngema] with dignity [and] deal with the issues after the funeral. We are asking for space as a family because we are grieving. I am not in a good space to comment about the issues in the letter. We will deal with them after the funeral,” said Nhlanhla.

Ngema, raised in the village of eNhlwathi near the rural town of KwaHlabisa, died in a car accident last week. It is believed he was travelling back from a funeral service when he met his untimely death.

His nephew Sabelo said Ngema was not the driver when the vehicle crashed in Bizana in the Eastern Cape.

The KZN memorial service took place at The Playhouse, a theatre in Durban on Wednesday.

The funeral service is currently underway at the Durban ICC. Ngema is being laid to rest through a special provincial official funeral category 2.

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