WILL it be a case of second time lucky in love for two of the biggest personalities on the Mzansi gqom music scene?
That’s the question that’s had fans buzzing as Babes Wodumo and Mampintsha announced a brand-new collaboration, Umphabazo, following a rollercoaster ride of a year.
There were rumours of an engagement, gossip about marriage and even whispers of a pregnancy before allegations of abuse appeared to end the romance.
Now they’re seemingly back in business – and it seems the flames of romance have been rekindled too. We look at the pair’s wild past and how they’re still standing.
A STAR IS BORN
Babes (24), real name Bongekile Simelane, and Mampintsha (36) aka Mandla Maphumulo met in 2013 when she featured as a dancer in Big Nuz’s music video for their track Hawaii.
Not long after, Babes became a household name with her 2016 smash single Wololo and she set tongues wagging when she was rumoured to be dating Mampintsha, a member of Big Nuz.
There was no denying the West Ink record label owner was an influential figure when it came to her music, as he featured on every song on her debut album Gqom Queen Vol 1.
Babes’ star rose and Mampintsha’s influence on her career became apparent – especially after she signed to his West Ink Records and he became her manager.
LOVE IS IN THE AIR
Their relationship became a subject of speculation, but Babes remained coy and refused to give away the name of the man in her life.
“I have a boyfriend,” she admitted. “We have been together for quite a while and he is a well-known artist but I will not say his name”.
By 2016, as Wololo shot to the top of the music charts, the couple were spotted together in public and pictures of their romance started appearing on both their social media accounts.
Finally, their fans got the answer they’d been desperate for: Mampintsha and Babes were indeed an item.
DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA
As the awards and nominations rolled in, so did the controversies.
Last year Mampintsha failed to apply for a visa in time for the songstress to travel to the United States to attend the BET Awards – where she was nominated in the best international act: Africa category.
Then there was the couple’s infamous rant after Babes left last year’s Samas empty-handed, with Mampintsha accusing “the powers that be” of being jealous of Babes’ success.
Babes is now reportedly facing a lawsuit from promoter DJ Mkhukhwini after being a no-show at a performance in the UK in October.
The gqom sensation apologised, tweeting that she had to skip the show as she was “dealing with a few hiccups with the promoter and mourning the passing of her grandmother”.
This year was filled with rumours that the couple were engaged, that Babes was pregnant, that they’d secretly married . . . but all the gossip screeched to a halt with Babes’ shock revelation on Metro FM in May that she and Mampintsha had broken up.
Babes would neither confirm nor deny allegations of abuse brought up by radio host Masechaba Ndlovu, but she did admit they’d been engaged. But no, she wasn’t pregnant and, in fact, they’d split up.
A storm ensued as Mzansi weighed in on the abuse allegations. Mampintsha subsequently told Masechaba he was unaware of the break-up and denied he’d ever hurt Babes. “People must just pray with us and for us. These things are corrupting Babes,” he said.
Babes’ dad, Reverend Mbongeni Simelane, added fuel to the fire saying he didn’t know there was a relationship between his daughter and the West Ink founder.
“We were shocked to hear about it [the allegations of abuse] and we want the nation to know we are against any kind of abuse against women,” he said in a statement. “We were not even aware they were dating.”
THE ‘OTHER’ MAN
With Babes saying she’d moved on, speculation grew that her new love interest was Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo (28).
Pictures of them holding hands made the rounds on social media, but the former Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper was quick to squash rumours. “We are not dating, we are just friends,” he insisted. “I think we should stop twisting things around. So what if we were holding hands? So now I can’t hold my friend’s hand?” he posted online.
Khuzwayo also called for an end to the speculation by asking fans to “grow with the times”. Babes also said they were “just friends”.
In a Metro FM interview, Babes said she “respected” Mampintsha but that was about it. “We work together but things are not the same as they were in the beginning,” she added.
She said she was leaving his West Ink record label to form her own, Wena Wodumo Entertainment. Yet a few months later she revealed she was still with West Ink but owned Wena Wodumo Entertainment, which Mampintsha helped her create.
“Mampintsha and I are fine. Despite everything that has been said about us,
right (we’re fine). We’ve known each other before all this and he’s helped me build Babes Wodumo. He also encourages me to be the best I can be.
“For example, just like he grew up and started West Ink, he gave me a chance to grow up and create Wena Wodumo Entertainment,” she told TimesLive. “That is what mentorship is about and what I hope to be for the people I will sign under my label.”
Despite the rocky road, it seem Babes and Mampintsha are more in love than ever – and this time there may indeed be wedding bells. Mampintsha recently uploaded a picture of a diamond ring and asked Babes if she would say “yes” if he proposed to her.
She replied, “Yes, my love” and added heart emojis. The couple have also started sharing photos of themselves together again, which they hadn’t done for months.
Babes, however, will no longer be speaking publicly about her relationships, she’s said.
“Part of the biggest lessons I learnt the hard way was not to talk about my personal life,” she said. “That often takes over and people are always on your case about what’s happening next. You get over that topic and want to talk about work. It overshadows what we are actually here to do.”
Babes and Mampintsha declined to be interviewed.