Woman claims to be Mbongeni Ngema’s customary wife

A woman who claims to be a customary wife of late acclaimed award-winning artist and playwright Dr Mbongeni Ngema, says she is pregnant with his child, has asked KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube to assist her to be involved in preparations for his burial.

In a letter dated January 2 2024 and addressed to the KZN premier, the woman who identified herself as Yolanda “Wanda” Moncho, said she is the managing director of Diamond Edge – an artist management company that was managing the career of Ngema.
Four months pregnant

Moncho said she became Ngema’s customary wife after he sent a delegation to her family in Diepkloof, Soweto in 2021.

She also said she is four months pregnant with his child, and therefore this should allow her to be involved in preparations for Ngema’s funeral service.

This week Dube-Ncube said Ngema will receive a special provincial official funeral category 2. The KZN province and Ngema’s family will provide details pertaining to the funeral service soon.

“I was therefore Dr Ngema’s official manager from about May 20…. (sic) until his painful death on Wednesday December [27] 2023. During this time, I am proud to say that, we worked very hard to revive Dr Ngema’s career as a musician and as a producer of theatre production,” said Moncho.

“Working with Dr Ngema we managed to stage his last theatre production BLACK which took place at Emperor’s Palace on… and…. September 2023… Source and confirm a number of live performance bookings for him amongst them.

“At the time of his death, Dr Ngema already had a confirmed retainer by the Gauteng Department of Social Development … Over and above my role as Dr Ngema’s manager, I was also his customary wife, him having sent a delegation to my family in Diepkloof, Soweto in 2021. As a matter of fact, at this very moment, I am 4 (sic) months pregnant with his child whose birth he was very much looking forward to,” said Moncho.

Disallowed to participate in burial discussions

She said she decided to write to Dube-Ncube because Ngema’s family did not accede to her requests to involve her in all meetings and discussions regarding the burial of the celebrated theater producer, director, and composer. 

“I have decided to direct this correspondence to your office, after several unsuccessful attempts to get the family of Dr Ngema to involve me in all meetings and other discussions amongst themselves and with government officials pertaining to the burial of Dr Ngema, my client and my husband.

“I write to plead with you to please facilitate a meeting between myself and my family that would ensure that I am as much involved in the preparation for my husband’s funeral as the same way that other spouses of my husband, in particular, one Ms Nompumelelo Gumede is currently involved,” said Moncho.

“This is very important for me because as his wife and his official manager, Dr Ngema has over the years confided to me on a number of matters pertaining to his death and it is my solemn wish to ensure that these are carried though to the end. I am hopeful that my humble request will be acceded to.

“I loved my husband, even in death, I love him. It remains my wish that his burial and all events leading up to it, proceed without any controversy, I am therefore hopeful that this request will find resonance with your office,” said Moncho. 

She said she will approach the courts if Dube-Ncube does not assist with her request. 

“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. It is my sincere hope and wish that this does not become necessary,” said Moncho.

Moncho’s lawyer advocate Christopher Shabangu confirmed the letter.

“We have not yet received a response from the office of the premier. We are still waiting for it. Miss Moncho wants to be involved in the planning of the burial. She is frustrated because Dr Ngema’s family does not want her to be part of the preparations for the burial.

“She knows how and where Dr Ngema should be buried. She is frustrated that those who were not close to him are making decisions about his burial. She is being blocked by his family. She must be given the right to mourn her husband,” said Shabangu.

KZN provincial government spokesperson Bongi Gwala said the office of the premier received the letter and forwarded it to Dube-Ncube. Gwala said Dube-Ncube has not yet seen the letter because she is in “another engagement.” Gwala said once the premier sees the letter she will be able to comment on it.

Fatal crash

Ngema, bred in the village of eNhlwathi near the rural town of KwaHlabisa in northern KwaZulu-Natal, was involved in a car accident last week.

It is believed that Ngema had been on his way back from a funeral service when he met his untimely death.

His nephew Sabelo said although Ngema was not the driver of the vehicle, he sustained severe injuries that led to his death. The crash happened in Bizana in the Eastern Cape.

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