Lion King producer Lebo Morake has revealed a dark family tragedy that has been weighing down on him for 18 years.
Sunday World can reveal that Morake’s 14-months-old son Thembalethu, who drowned in a swimming pool of his Dainfern home more than a decade ago, was sodomised before he met his tragic death, which sent shock waves through South Africa then.
Morake’s niece Tshepo Mboni confirmed the existence of the autopsy report and said he was devastated when he discovered that Thembalethu had been raped before left to drown.
Relating the incident, Mboni said Morake’s then-wife Nandi Ndlovu left Thembalethu under the care of their helper and went to attend a funeral in Kwa-Zulu Natal, while he (Morake) was conducting Lion King auditions in Melrose Arch, Joburg.
Thembalethu’s body was found floating in the swimming pool by the helper who immediately notified Ndlovu and Morake.
The helper was later arrested and found guilty of negligence by the Randburg Magistrate’s Court and released when she paid a R3 000 fine.
News that Morake’s toddler was sexually molested and left to drown, was revealed in an autopsy report, which was leaked by one of Morake’s relatives who got to know of it when the international producer broke the news to his children and close relatives earlier this year.
Compiled by Dr Jeanine Vellema, the post-mortem report, which is in our possession, reads in part: “I have examined the body of a black male baby on 18th day of August 2003 at the Medico-Legal Laboratory Johannesburg beginning at 08h20. That the chief post-mortem findings in the case were: The body of a well-nourished, black male toddler, with pulmonary autopsy features in keeping with the given history of drowning.
“In addition, there was evidence of anal injuries, consistent with those of recent sexual assault. Anal tissues taken for histological examination revealed evidence of recent, acute traumatic submucosal haemorrhage,” reads the report.
Mboni said Morake, who stars in his reality television show Lebo M -Coming Home, turned to alcohol and ended up in rehab.
“He surrendered himself to alcohol and even took the law into his own hands. That’s why he ended up burning their house in the United States and was arrested for that because he wanted answers,” he said.
Mboni also said Morake was contemplating making representations to the National Prosecuting Authority to re-open investigations into this case.
“My uncle believes that someone out there knows the truth about what happened to his son and that person is hiding it.
“That is why he always breaks down and cries every time he talks about Thembalethu.
“He believes that Thembalethu, who would have turned 19 years this year, deserves justice and as a father he thinks that he is failing him by not getting to the bottom of what happened to him,” said Mboni.
“He needs to know whether it was a gardener, a family friend or neighbour who did this to his child. This person is out there probably molesting other children and he needs to be found and be brought to book,” he said.
Ndlovu said Morake was trying to use their son to garner public sympathy because of the negative publicity his reality show has been attracting .
“This is a sensitive matter, why bring it up now 18 years after the death of my son?
“I was put in a mental institution after the death of my son because as a mother I couldn’t take it,” she said.
Ndlovu said she has found closure and would not support Morake’s attempt to reopen the investigation.
“The maid was arrested tried and convicted for this. That is why during the trial I asked the court not to send her to jail because that was going to destroy her. I also believe that she had learnt from her mistake.
“So, what is this man trying to do to this woman now? Can my son rest in peace, please!” she said.
She refuted claims that Morake burnt down their house in the US after arguing over the matter.
“He came to my house and saw things that he was not even supposed to see because we had separated at that time. It was pure jealousy. Even my kids are still traumatised by that incident,” she said.
Morake said he was heartbroken that Ndlovu would not support his plan to ask law enforcement agencies to probe the sexual molestation of his son.
“I don’t believe that the woman who went to the media and said she was heartbroken because I had removed her name from the tombstone and replaced it with my adopted son’s, would suddenly say she cares less about what happened to our son,” he said.
Morake also said he was not surprised that Ndlovu pleaded with the court not to send the maid to jail for what he believed, after getting the autopsy report, was the murder of his son.
“Dainfern is a gated area, and my house was situated 30 houses from the entrance.
“How did this maid reach my house and got interviewed by Nandi and then five days later, my son is murdered?
“Maybe there is a cover-up but by whom I don’t know,” he said.
– Sunday World