‘Jungle’ disaster for SA divas

2013-05-12 14:00

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Celebs claim they were badly treated during award show trip to Nigeria.

Can you imagine Florence Masebe stranded in a “jungle” and diva ­Khanyi Mbau camping on a hotel couch?

Well that’s what allegedly ­happened to them and other South ­African celebs while they were in Nigeria last month for the yearly Africa Movie Academy Awards.

The department of international relations and cooperation had to intervene after Mbau and members of Kwela Tebza and Afro-pop group Mafikizilo spent the night wandering the streets and sleeping on a hotel lobby couch after discovering the hotel which they had been booked into did not exist.

Scandal! actress Masebe says she was left in the middle of ­nowhere with no transport to her hotel.

But Africa Movie Academy Awards media and marketing officer Lilian Daksalevowicz ­dismissed their claims as lies, insisting that they were “unthankful” and that Masebe “threw tantrums”.

Mafikizolo road manager Piwe Shabangu said when they arrived in the coastal city of Port Harcourt, they googled the name of their hotel but discovered it did not exist.

“Before we flew to Nigeria, they sent us an email with the picture of the hotel and it looked very ­beautiful,” she said.

Shabangu said people who had introduced themselves as part of the organising team collected them from the airport and took them to Bayelsa Estate, about two hours away.

“They just dropped us off at some house and left us. We were under the impression that they were coming back to take us to our hotel but they didn’t. We contacted the lady who was organising the awards, but her cellphone was off. At about 4am the following ­morning she phoned and said we should sleep in the house they left us at,” she said.

“We went inside to inspect it, but it was so filthy. The linens were so dirty and the toilets were not in a hygienic state. It looked like a ­disused building. So we refused to sleep in it.”

Shabangu said they packed their bags and decided to leave without performing.

“Look, apart from spending the night without sleeping, we were ­also hungry because these people did not give us our subsistence ­allowance to buy food. So we phoned the South African consulate and asked them to arrange that we go back home. But after a few minutes the organisers fetched us and took us to a hotel. It was a ­horrible trip,” she said.

Kwela Tebza’s Mpho Lerole said things changed the following day when they contacted the consulate.

“At least we were taken to a better place. After our performance on Saturday we just left and wanted nothing to do with that place,” he said.

Masebe, who won the Best Actress gong for her film Elelwane, said the organisers dropped her and her group at “some place” in the afternoon saying they were going to find them accommodation, but they never ­returned.

“We remained there stranded until the morning. Remember we were in the Delta region, which is known for unstable security and heightened risk of kidnapping. I feared for my life. I thought I was going to die,” she said.

She also contacted the consulate for help.

“We wanted to go back home because we did not feel safe there. But we were fetched there in the morning and taken to our hotel, which was also not fit for human habitation,” she said. “It is sad that South Africans are treated the way we were treated in Nigeria.”

In response to written questions, the department’s spokesperson, Claysen Monyela, said they were “very happy that we were able to assist the stranded South Africans in Nigeria”.

But Daksalevowicz said they were “lying”, adding that the Bayelsa provincial government asked all the visitors to sleep in their tourist building as there was not enough accommodation for everybody.

“Florence Masebe started throwing tantrums, saying that she was abandoned. She started calling the embassy and consulate, and suddenly the police arrived and she packed her bags and left with them.

“She returned the following day to attend the event. No one was left without subsistence allowance, transport and accommodation. These people are lying and are so unthankful,” she said.

But Anyiam-Osigwe wrote a letter to all participants apologising for what she called “inconveniences and unfortunate circumstances”.

“I wish to inform you the Africa Movie Academy Awards takes full responsibility for all the shortcomings with logistics that we all faced this year. On behalf of the board ... I extend my sincerest apologies to you all and especially those of you who were subjected to hostile and unprofessional behaviour from Africa Movie Academy Awards staff. Rest assured that the management team are dealing with this and take your complaints very seriously.”

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