His proposal at KFC went viral – now Hector and Nonhlanhla are preparing for the wedding of their dreams, thanks to Mzansi’s generosity
IT’S a scene we’ve seen played out many times before – in movies, on TV, and often in real life too. There was something different about this proposal, though: it wasn’t the reveal of the ring, the handsome guy on bended knee in a crowded restaurant or the beautiful bae’s surprise that drew a reaction. It was the magical combination of these things – in all its beautiful, raw simplicity – that melted Mzansi’s hearts.
The special moment was caught on film and spread like wildfire on social media, sending South Africans and the world into a feel-good, loved-up frenzy of euphoric generosity.
Hector Mkansi (37) and Nonhlanhla Soldaat (28), now and forever known as the KFC Couple, still can’t believe the buzz around Hector’s proposal at the fast-food restaurant in Evaton Mall in Gauteng.
They’ve been inundated with around 200 pledges and promises of wedding venues, caterers, DJs, ministers, décor, suits, gowns, honeymoons, baecations, flights, transport, cash donations of more than R300 000, magazine shoots and A-list MCs.
Hector wanted to do something special for Nonhlanhla. They’d been together for eight years and got married last year. But it was a small wedding, he says. “It was far from what we wanted and I vowed to make her feel special every year, which is what I did [at KFC].”
When Nonhlanhla spotted the ring tucked into her bag of fries Hector dropped to his knee, sending ripples of rapture across the country when he said to her, “Nkosikazi [wife], you are so special to me, will you please marry me again?
“I don’t have the financial muscle, I’m not working. If I was [working] I’d do something big, but then I thought, with us getting our rings back, let me not just give it back to you without thought.
“I wanted to make it special, no matter how small. I want you to feel comfort, to feel special – like the queen that you are in my home.”
The lovebirds are now looking forward to their dream wedding. “We haven’t yet come up with a date but I can’t wait to come down from a helicopter, holding my wife in her champagne dress,” Hector tells DRUM.
“Everything that’s happening is what we’ve been praying for.”
THE two met 10 years ago at a funeral. “I asked a relative to call her. When she was in front of me I found myself shaking, and I ended up asking her to get me a plate of food and a juice. When she came back I told her there was something missing from her plate, which was her number,” Hector recalls with a smile.
At the time Nonhlanhla was 18 and completing matric, and Hector was 27. Her mother, she recalls, was initially
opposed to their relationship, saying he was a player who’d knock her up and leave. “It got worse when I visited him in Limpopo,” she adds.
“I was warmly welcomed by his family, but when I came home my mother said I should go back there. I was emotional when I called him, but he spoke to my mother and promised to pay lobola.”
Nonhlanhla had a good feeling about Hector, despite her mother’s reservations. “He was different from other men. He introduced me as his wife even before he paid lobola.”
Hector started negotiations with her family in 2011. “I managed to complete the lobola only last year and we got married in December.”
The couple knew their first wedding wouldn’t be the one of their dreams but they went ahead so they could be together legitimately, they say. Their parents paid for it all, and their marriage has been nothing but bliss. “Our love wasn’t based on material things,” Nonhlanhla says.
She’s studying toward an education degree through Unisa and Hector, who’s unemployed, volunteers full-time at his church. The couple have a son, Percy (7), and Hector has two children from a previous relationship.
“Nonhlanhla is everything I need in a woman. I knew I found a home when I met her. I can boldly say she’s my soulmate,” he says, smiling broadly.
“He treats me like a woman,” Nonhlanhla adds. “He doesn’t work but when I compare him with people who do work, I see him as being way better. He always makes sure we never lose sight of the fact that we’re in love, and even though we’ve been together for some time our love is new every day.
“That’s why I’ve never taken even going to KFC for granted. I always appreciate that he still makes time to take me to KFC.”
HECTOR had planned his proposal perfectly. He’d taken their wedding rings to be cleaned and when they were done with errands that day, Nonhlanhla said she was feeling peckish. Hector suggested they stop at a KFC for a bite to eat.
“She’s a meat lover, especially KFC, and I’d been waiting for her to say something about being hungry. Just on schedule, she did, and I knew it was my moment,” he recounts.
“We’d taken our rings to be polished and I wanted to do something special when I gave hers back. Even though I don’t work, I wanted to make the moment special.”
Luckily for Hector the restaurant didn’t have the cooldrink Nonhlanhla wanted, so when she popped out to buy it at another shop he asked the staff to tuck her ring into her meal. When their lunch arrived Nonhlanhla opened the box.
“When I saw the ring I knew it was my ring, of course, and I started getting emotional and asked, ‘ Why is he doing this to me?’ Then he got down on one knee. He’d never knelt for me before.
“I’m a shy person, so the attention was a lot. That’s why I kept covering my eyes.”
The couple had no idea their sweet moment would become an internet sensation, trending on Twitter locally and around the world. “Hector normally takes pictures of us eating and posts them on social media, but that day he didn’t. So I was surprised to get a call from my cousin and other random people telling me Twitter was looking for us,” she says, referring to the tweet from KFC, which was trying to find the couple.
Every time someone called she thought they were being pranked or scammed, so she ignored the calls. “But our phones wouldn’t stop ringing. People were telling us we were famous. It was too much! He knows I’m shy. It was all overwhelming for me.”
Their second wedding will no doubt be a lavish affair fit for royalty. It’ll be open to Mzansi, the couple say, once they’ve figured out the logistics of it all – something KFC South Africa has said it’ll help with.
For now the couple are taking in their newfound fame.
“Even our neighbours want to take pictures with us so they can show their friends we’re neighbours,” Hector says, laughing.
‘Our phones wouldn’t stop ringing – people were telling us we were famous. It was too much!’