Ring of steel around top cop’s lavish wedding

2010-10-03 08:33

National police commissioner Bheki Cele and his bride, Thembeka Ngcobo, exchanged their wedding vows yesterday behind a wall of tight security at a luxury KwaZulu-Natal south coast estate.

Cele’s 350 guests and workers at the elite Lynton Hall estate at Pennington were sworn to secrecy about the plush wedding, at which media houses were barred by the flamboyant national police boss.

Suited security officials and hostesses in cocktail dresses vetted the fleet of luxury vehicles arriving at the main gate to the estate, checking their names against the list of guests and services providers before issuing them with stickers allowing them onto the private road leading to the estate itself.

They were then stopped at two further checkpoints before being allowed into the premises at a third security point.

Inside, the top-drawer event – billed as KwaZulu-Natal’s wedding of the year – was awash with the whos who of South African politics, sport and business, with two VVIP tables set aside for the crème de la crème, including President Jacob ­Zuma.

A makeshift helipad was constructed inside the estate grounds, which are enclosed by an electric fence, to allow those who chose to come by helicopter to do so away from the prying eyes of the media.

The estate management had also brought in a bulldozer earlier in the week to fill holes in the dirt road leading to the buildings to avoid damaging the guests’ luxury vehicles.

The seven-course menu was put together by award-winning chef Andrew Draper of ­Harvey’s, with traditional dishes catered for by Nto’s Catering.

The menu included linefish, lamb and chicken dishes, ­complemented by vegetarian ­options and traditional fare.

The ceremony was conducted in a nomad tent brought down from Johannesburg for the ­wedding, while the reception went off in a glass tent ­constructed especially for the event.

Ngcobo’s dress was designed by top designer Malcolm Kluk, while those of the bridesmaids were created by Gideon.

Local designer Mthoko was responsible for Ngcobo’s ­mother’s dress.

Among the guests were ­Zuma’s businessman nephew Khulubuse, and Cele’s lobola negotiator and Durban socialite S’bu Mpisane, whose construction companies were ­under fire for providing ­sub-standard housing to the ­eThekwini ­municipality.

Other top-flight names on the guest list included Fana ­Hlongwane, Mabheleni Ntuli, Irvin Khoza and Jeff Radebe.

The cost of the wedding was difficult to estimate but Lynton Hall, built over a 21-year period from 1895 by sugar baron Charles Reynolds, goes for R19 500 a day with an ­additional R5 000 for the use of the kitchen and lawns.

Estates around Pennington were booked out yesterday by guests who were expected to stay the night after the wedding.

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