Dead man walking or a fraud?

2012-02-04 00:00

TO some he’s a dead man walking, to others he’s simply a fraud.

Even among family members and the mothers of his children, there’s confusion whether the famous masakandi artist Khulekani “Mgqumeni” Khumalo is back in the land of the living or whether he was ever dead at all.

Until this week they believed Khumalo died in December 2009. He was buried by his family, and the emergence this week of a man claiming to be Khumalo has his family divided and his village and province agog.

Fingerprints have been taken and tomorrow an official press conference will be held in Nquthu, where all is expected to be revealed.

And if it is indeed Khumalo, then the next question is, who exactly is the man they buried?

Speaking yesterday at Esigqumeni in Nquthu, northern KwaZulu-Natal, the man who insists he is Khumalo — minus the dreadlocks and sporting distinctive scars — said he was looking forward to seeing the grave he was allegedly buried in and to know who was lying there.

“I was not dead, but I was staying with the animals and tokoloshes [zombies] in a jungle in Johannesburg’s Driefontein.

A lot of muthi was used by my captors to try to turn me into a zombie.”

After months in captivity he was rescued by a man who had found him loitering and was taken to a spiritual healer in Kranskop.

Khumalo told family and relatives, who believe he is the real thing: “It was hell living there because I did not know whether I would ever see my family again,.

“The most difficult part is that I don’t know how I ended up in that jungle.”

He strummed a chord or two on his trademark guitar, recalling the praise songs his fans know him by.

“IBhova likaDikadika”, as he was affectionally known to his fans, said he had survived because his religion, the Nazareth Baptist, or Shembe, Church, had helped him “during this difficult time”.

The woman described by Khumalo as his wife, Nonhlanhla Majola, told Weekend Witness that towards the end of December she had been called to the house of a spiritual healer in Kranskop where she also lives.

“When I got there I saw Mgqumeni, but I couldn’t believe that it was him, because I was at his funeral,” said an emotional Majola.

He had refused to respond when she called him “Mgqumeni”.

“Mgqumeni claimed that this is not his name, but it was his cousin’s name.

“At that moment I realised that he was confused about his identity.”

His uncle, Nkosingiphile Khumalo, said they were still shocked, and were waiting for permission to exhume the body that had been buried.

Khumalo said: “Although we are happy, we are still trying to come to terms with this as we made so many rituals after his alleged death.

“It’s our son, he is back.

“We need to make everyone understand that he is here now and he has to rebuild his life again,” his uncle added.

Zehlile Xulu, who is the mother of one of Khuamlo’s children, said she still needed time to say whether it was indeed Khumalo.

She was among those who were able to talk to him last night.

KZN Department of Arts and Culture spokesperson Mluleki Mtungwa said the department would not comment until there were concrete facts.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said the large police presence at the Khumalo homestead yesterday was for crowd control.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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