IT’S been the year for celebrity breakups. From Bonang and AKA’s shock split to Melanie and Zwai Bala’s marriage crumbling and Tumi Masemola moving on from Mandla N, love seemed to be a losing game in 2018. Amid all the heartbreak there was one well-known couple who restored fans’ faith in romance and they seemed the perfect match.
ProVerb (37) and Liesl Laurie’s (27) story was the stuff romantic movies are made of. The Idols SA host was nursing a broken heart after divorcing his wife of 10 years when he found comfort in the arms of the former Miss SA.
ProVerb and Liesl tried to keep their relationship on the down-low for months but there was just no hiding it. From sundrenched baecations in Jamaica, Mexico and New York, the loved-up pair seemed to have the world at their feet.
And in spite of being hurt in the past, ProVerb didn’t hold back when it came to treating the woman in his life. Instagram followers watched with envy as Liesl opened an expensive Louis Vuitton handbag – apparently worth R15 000 – from him.
And soon they were spotted out and about at events, looking happier than they’d ever been.
So it came as a surprise when the couple wiped all traces of their two-year romance from their social media pages. What had happened, people wondered. Did the power couple split?
According to news reports #VerbaLee – as they called themselves on social media – is over.
“Yes, it’s true but please don’t write this,” the Sunday Sun newspaper quoted Liesl as confirming the break-up. She didn’t want to discuss her split with DRUM when we asked her to confirm, but a friend of hers says Liesl and ProVerb are still digesting the break-up. “Give them time, they’re not ready yet.”
According to Sunday Sun, the split was caused by ProVerb spending too much time with his kids – he has two from his marriage to ex-wife Onalerona Moreo – and not having enough quality time with Liesl. But a source close to Liesl says that’s not true. “People reported he was spending too much time with his kids and not giving her attention – that’s a lie,” says the friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Pro is very caring, but Liesl is still young and she isn’t ready to play stepmom.”
Liesl didn’t call it quits on their relationship, a friend of ProVerb adds.
“He broke up with her, not the other way around. He just needs a break from this love game, I think. He’s a hopeless romantic but he puts his kids first,” says the friend, who didn’t want his identity revealed.
The friend says ProVerb hasn’t been taking the break-up well. “Obviously, he’s hurting but he’s seen worse with his previous relationship. Liesl was a nice girl, it’s a pity it ended. Maybe they’ll get back together again.”
Liesl, who was Miss SA 2015, met ProVerb while he was hosting that year’s event. After many months of claiming to just be close friends, they came out with their relationship in February 2016. The lovebirds attended a Proudly SA event together and were pictured handing out roses at a traffic light in celebration of their love.
As their romance ramped up, they were pictured together more frequently, and were always red carpet-ready with their “cheesy” smiles, as Liesl called it.
On social media she affectionately called him her king, and she was his queen.
And their love was strengthened by a common background. They both come from humble beginnings and have gone on to make a name for themselves. Liesl is from Eldorado Park, southwest of Joburg, and has a BCom degree from the University of Johannesburg. She is also a presenter on Jacaranda FM’s breakfast show and an in-demand MC.
ProVerb, originally from Kimberley, started rapping in 1999. He l anded his first TV job in 2003, presenting on Channel O. Now, he’s an Idols SA presenter – and one of the show’s producers. He also does radio work and owns his own production company.
Speaking to TshisaLive last year, the rapper said he was drawn to Liesl’s drive. “We met and realised we connected on so many levels. She’s on her own path. She works on radio, does corporate gigs, she’s always busy. She’s an inspiration to me and we keep each other motivated. She’s an angel.”
ProVerb is also fiercely private and declined to comment on his break-up with Liesl. “I don’t talk about my personal life,” he tells us.
THE doting dad seems to be unlucky in love. The cracks in his marriage started to show in 2015 when news of his wife’s cheating broke, but ProVerb tried his best to pour cold water on the rumours and posted happy snaps of himself and Onalerona. After being spotted without his wedding ring on Idols he eventually came clean about their marital woes, and asked his supporters to cut his wife some slack after she was attacked on social media for cheating. “None of us are perfect,” he said on Twitter. “My wish is to protect the kids and shield her from judgment. I have my flaws too, but God is at the wheel.”
ProVerb gave fans a rare glimpse into his hurt when he opened up in an interview with Masechaba Ndlovu on Power FM. “It’s the feelings of inadequacy, the feelings of failure, and the feelings of just not being enough,” he said.
“But since then I know myself better. I know my worth better, I know my value better. I love myself like never before and quite frankly, in some twisted way, I feel like I may not have had some of these revelations had it not happened.”
At the time ProVerb told DRUM he had spoken to his children about the divorce (‘I’ve been living a lie for years’, 1 October 2015).
“I don’t want my kids to find out when they are older, because nowadays there is internet where everything is available.”
His biggest mission then – and presumably now – is to safeguard the kids from the glaring public eye. “I just want to protect them.”