Half a million rand is a lot of money – especially for someone that’s broke. She’s down and out after years of not being paid, and now she’s chasing what’s owed to her.
Chomee recently spoke of a show she did in China eight years ago she hadn’t been paid for, but that’s not the only gig she hasn’t received payment for. She’s owed at least R500 000 for several performances – and now she’s enlisted the help of a legal team.
“I’m engaging with lawyers who’ve volunteered to help me with my case then I’ll pay them afterwards,” she tells DRUM.
At the time of going to print, Chomee (31) was set to meet her legal team to discuss resolving her remuneration without going to court.
“I’ll give them time to volunteer to pay without going the legal route because it’s expensive.” Money’s too tight to mention for the singer who, for years, had been linked to 999 Music’s Arthur Mafokate (55).
She was only nine years old when the kwaito king signed her to his record label and groomed her into a star. Under Arthur’s mentorship Chomee became known as the first lady of 999 Music.
She left her ex-lover’s music stable to spread her wings as an independent artist under her own company, Divatainment– but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.
The award-winning singer recently posted an open letter on social media revealing her “frustration as a young female artist” in the music business.
“I got booked for a lot of gigs separate from gigs from my managers. I did most of them but the most painful thing is the abuse and exploitation by some promoters who treat us like objects,” read the open letter that has since been deleted.
“To this date I am owed hundreds of thousands of rands by big names in the industry, and most are powerful people. I’m even scared to name and shame. I’m writing this letter to try and get them to realise times are hard for me and I need to survive to support my family.”
One of her unpaid gigs dates back to 2010, she tells DRUM. “When I went to China the promoter said I won’t be paid but I took it for granted.” Chomee says she didn’t think he was serious that she wouldn’t be paid.
“Now I can’t take care of my family or spoil myself because of all the losses I’ve incurred. I can’t even sign artists to my label. When you’re an artist it’s different – you just do your job and trust they’ll pay you. But when it’s your company, you have people to pay. How do you tell them you can’t pay them because you haven’t been paid?”
She hasn’t named her defaulters but it’s understood that Chomee’s 2010 gig in China was arranged by Native Rhythms owner Sipho Sithole. Speaking to DRUM, Sipho says he was instructed by Lulu Xingwana, the former minister for arts and culture, to include Chomee in the line-up for Expo 2010 in Shanghai China.
“Native Rhythms was given a list of artists for all the shows for the cultural program in China, plus the exact budget that had been allocated,” he says.