SA gospel star Sfiso Ncwane feels the heat from local media

One of the most popular gospel singers in South Africa, Sfiso Ncwane has been making headlines lately for all the wrong reasons…

Sfiso Ncwane. Photo: www.macufe.co.za
Sfiso Ncwane. Photo: www.macufe.co.za

A few weeks ago, in mid-September, the singer reportedly bought a V8 AMG Mercedes-Benz worth R1,9m (US$137 000) for his pastor, Reverend Francis Anosike of Rock of Victory Ministries church. The gift was apparently in appreciation of Anosike’s support and prayers while Ncwane had been ill. Ncwane credits the Johannesburg-based Nigerian pastor for leading him to become a born-again Christian in 2006.

A week later, after seeing the story on the cover of Daily Sun, South Africa’s largest daily paper, Ncwane’s mother Fikile said she almost fainted when she saw pictures of her son handing over the car, claiming her son and his wife Ayanda do not support her. “I have been starving. Sometimes I go to sleep without any food,” Fikile told Daily Sun. “This is my son, whom I carried for nine months, the son that I raised without support from his dad, that was giving another man a car.”

Ncwane promptly responded by apologising to everyone who was offended by his gesture, but affirmed that he did not regret buying the top-of-the-line car for the pastor. He told radio station Vuma FM that he had been taking care of his mother and had even built her a house and furnished it. Rubbishing the accusations of neglect, he blamed the media for twisting the story. As a public gesture he then filled his mum’s fridge with groceries to the tune of R2000 (US$144).

Just when it seemed the dispute between mum and son was resolved, earlier this week the gospel star dropped another bombshell when he alleged that Fikile is not his real biological mother and that he wanted to dump her surname and instead adopt Zikhali, the surname of his late father. “I don’t think she is my biological mother,” he told Drum. “She claims to be my mother, but there’s no proof of it - no one saw her giving birth to me. All I know is that she left me with some relative of hers when I was only two weeks old. She never raised me and she refused to show me my father.”

Apparently contradicting his earlier statement, the singer justified not supporting his mother by saying that she used the R3000 (US$216) monthly allowance he gave her to consult traditional healers. As a born-again Christian, Ncwane could not stand having his money spent on spiritual practices which he said were against his faith, like the consultation of sangomas. He claimed that his mom had “zombies” in her house. “This is the reason why I decided to stop going home and to not send my wife and kids there just in case they got sick. My mother is fighting with me because she wants me to consult traditional doctors, but I don't go to sangomas or inyangas,” he told Drum

Fikile (60) responded angrily with a warning that her celebrity son carry would face a life of bad luck. She told Daily Sun of her unhappiness on hearing that Sfiso wanted to change his surname. “He can change it if he likes, but he will suffer for the rest of his life!” she said. “Sfiso claims that I didn’t raise him, but that’s a lie. I worked from house to house as a domestic worker, and I earned only a little. I couldn’t take him with me to work so he had to stay with different families. But I made sure that I sent him the little that I earned. His father didn’t care. In fact, he ran away and returned only when Sfiso was famous,” she said.

In response to her son’s ‘zombie’ accusation, she told Daily Sun: “Yes, I do perform rituals in my house to protect it from thunderstorms and evil spirits… Maybe Sfiso doesn’t understand that as he is a born-again Christian.”

When contacted by the paper for comment, Sfiso apparently hung up his phone, and was not willing to respond to messages.  

As if the public spat with his mom isn’t bad enough for the star’ image, on 30 September Ncwane was back in the headlines for another reason, after Times Live reported that a woman named Pinky Dlamini, had surfaced claiming the gospel singer is the father of her 11-year-old son and that “he has done nothing for his son”. Ncwane responded by denying that the child was his and offered to take a DNA test to prove it.

Ncwane is one of the biggest-selling artists in South Africa’s lucrative gospel market. His albums include Baba Ngiyavuma (2007), Kulungile Baba (2010) and Bayede Baba (2014). He has picked up numerous awards, including a South African Music Award (SAMA) in 2013 for Record of the Year, the first time in the history of awards that a gospel song was even nominated, and an award that is voted for by the public.

Earlier this month, on Friday 11 September, Ncwane was invited to be part of a panel discussion on the local gospel industry during the recent Moshito music conference, but showed up five minutes before the end of the two-hour session. One of the topics discussed during the panel was how, as an artist, the media can either make or break you...

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