MBONGENI Ngema, an award-winning writer, composer, director and theatre producer, has been removed as co-director of his own production, the Broadway-renowned musical Sarafina!, following allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation.
The production, which opened on Friday at the Joburg Theatre, depicts South African students who demonstrated and protested against apartheid in 1976.
When approached by the Sunday Tribune, the 64-year-old Ngema said he was busy and asked that he be contacted at a later date.
Thereafter, attempts to contact him were unsuccessful as he did not respond to calls or texts.
In a statement, Joburg Theatre management confirmed that sexual harassment and intimidation allegations had been brought to its attention and an internal investigation was under way.
“We take the safety and well-being of young actors and minors as of paramount importance. The theatre has in place a professional counsellor who is available during the production season at the Joburg Theatre for the Sarafina! cast members.
“This matter is of serious concern and as such, the management of Joburg Theatre is currently seeking legal counsel and will issue a statement in due course,” the statement said.
Ngema, who co-wrote the multiaward winning Woza Albert!, has previously been accused of harassment by young actors, and faced similar allegations in the 1980s in New York during a production of Sarafina!
In the past, Ngema even went on to date and eventually marry Leleti Khumalo, a lead actress in Sarafina. Leleti Khumalo, popularly known as Sarafina after she played the leading role in this Apartheid-era inspired drama, comes highly recommended and is one of Mzansi’s most treasured stars.
The couple’s marriage could however not last long as Leleti alleged that Ngema was abusive and not worth to be her husband any more.
The film maker is one celebrity who is never shy to make headlines to do with women and sex or love.
Ngema even went on to grab headlines in 2014 when it was reported that he was marrying his fourth spouse.
According to the Daily Sun, the playwright and his bride concluded both traditional acts of ‘Umembeso’ (engagement) and lobola negotiations in February 2014.
“I’ve paid lobola for Phumla but the date of the wedding has not been set. We just haven’t discussed the details,” Mbongeni told the publications at the time.
Phumla, who was 28 years old then, wasn’t going to be Mbongeni’s only wife, but the other woman had approved of their union.
“All my wives are aware of the new wife and have accepted her as one of their own,” he said.
Sunday Tribune / Celeb Gossip