I wasn’t given to anybody – woman in Motsoeneng ‘wife gift’ scandal

2014-06-23 08:59

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Journalists were forced to take off their shoes, and get down on their knees before Venda traditional leaders at a media briefing in Johannesburg.

The bizarre briefing yesterday was over a report by the Sowetan newspaper last week that SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng had been given a wife as a gift.

At the start of the briefing by Mudzi Wa Vhurereli ha Vhavenda, a lobby group of Venda traditional leaders and healers, reporters were instructed to remove their shoes and get on bended knees so that they could perform a cultural ritual before beginning.

Most journalists were stunned by the instruction, but got down so that the briefing could go ahead.

Members of Mudzi, in brightly coloured traditional attire, and two young bare-breasted women constantly bowed and did loud ritual ululating throughout the briefing before each member could speak.

This ritual sometimes required them to lie on the floor.

Only one in the group, Gladys Nethengwe, could speak some English.

One of the bare-breasted women was Vanessa Mutswari, the 23-year-old college student who was reportedly given to Motsoeneng as a gift.

Mutswari said she was engaged to be married to someone else and that the June 13 report in the Sowetan was not true.

“I’m saying with my own mouth, I was not given to anybody,” Nethengwe interpreted for Mutswari.

“That is not Venda tradition. I’m proud of what I am and my culture. I was not half-naked. It’s a shedo [Tshivenda traditional attire]. I will continue wearing it.”

She said the report in the Sowetan last Friday had caused problems for her and almost destroyed her pending marriage.

Mutswari, an avid soccer player and a college beauty queen, said life would go on despite the article and that she would talk to her husband-to-be about it.

Nethengwe, interpreting for other members of Mudzi, dismissed the allegation that 10 girls were lined up for Motsoeneng.

She said there were only four girls that were part of a procession, and two were ushers.

“What is being said is not true. According to Venda law, if someone visits you, you have to give gifts,” she said.

“We offered a cow ... We gave the entire SABC a cow and a calf. It was not directed to a certain somebody.”

She explained that the girls left the procession to accompany Motsoeneng to show him his gifts.

“Our hearts are bleeding because of the lies,” Nethengwe translated for another member.

“A wife cannot be given to any ordinary person. A chief is entitled to choose two or more girls with a pre-arrangement with parents.”

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