'Back from dead' musician in custody
Mlondi Radebe, The Witness
Durban - It appears South Africa’s own “Lazarus” has not risen from the dead after all. Instead, he is in a police cell.
The man claiming to be the famous maskandi artist, Khulekani 'Mgqumeni' Khumalo, who died in December 2009, was locked up on Sunday as police investigate a charge of impersonation.
“He has been taken to the police station for questioning, but tomorrow [Monday] we will have more information on him,” said police spokesperson Captain Jay Naicker.
Although there is speculation that the man is wanted for robbery in Johannesburg, Naicker said this was only a rumour.
Police had to use a water cannon on Sunday to control the crowd who descended on the area to see what the man looked like.
Dressed in a floral shirt and buckskins, but without Mgqumeni’s trademark dreadlocks, the man had earlier greeted fans from the top of a police armoured car.
Over a loudspeaker, he described his “captivity” in Johannesburg’s Driefontein.
“I have been living a painful life over the past two years. The people who captured me shaved my dreadlocks because they wanted to put a nail in my head.
“They wanted to make me a zombie.”
At a press briefing later, he said his name had been changed. While speaking to uKhozi FM announcer Tshata Ngobe, he kept referring to him as “Bhuti Linda”.
Dumisani Goba, founder of the South African Traditional Music Awards (Satma) asked when last he had won the award.
The man did not answer and instead said: “My voice may sound different but it will take time.”
Fans were also surprised to see that he sported a gold tooth, which no one remembered the singer having.
“Seeing this big crowd made me happy,” he went on to say.
“It is very difficult for me to be killed for my talent by other musicians because no one will have the voice that I have.
“Only I, Mgqumeni, have it.”
He said his captors had changed his name to Sphamanda Gcabashe.
“They even organised an identity document for me.”
While Mgqumeni’s grandmother, Khaledumisa Mseleku, said on Saturday she believed the man was her grandson, others in the crowd did not.
“Why is he wearing the same clothes for a week?” asked Sthembile Sithole. “There is something fishy about this man.”
The Mseleku family, in whose grounds Mgqumeni is buried, did not want to comment, saying they were afraid “of being arrested” after the unconfirmed arrest of an uncle for allegedly commenting that “it’s not Mgqumeni”.
The results of fingerprint tests have not yet been released and the man is reportedly prepared to undergo DNA tests.
KwaZulu-Natal Community Safety spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane asked that people should allow the police to complete their investigation without hindrance.