From panty restrictions to stripped of her award: A timeline of Zodwa Wabantu's scandalous rise to fame

Cape Town - Zodwa Wabantu, a former debt collector from Soweto, has made a name for herself in the local nightlife and club party scene - making news headlines with her nearly-naked looks, and liberal viewpoints.  

In 2017, the 33-year-old burst onto everyone's radar, wearing a black dress with a slit that exposed half of her bottom to the Durban July. 

From that moment, thousands of eyeballs were on the entertainer, waiting to see what she will wear, say, or do next. 

It's hard to believe that a few months earlier, Zodwa was working as a debt collector, and dancing in clubs as a way of generating an income. 

ALSO READ: PICS: Zodwa Wabantu makes jaw-dropping Durban July entrance in her most revealing outfit yet!

The mother of one, had also previously spoken about accepting money from men in exchange for sex. She told TshisaLIVE that although some people saw it as prostitution, she saw it as "hustling," and insisted that no child should experience what she went through.

In the following months Zodwa continued to hit trending status, making headlines with her panty-less appearances and risque dance moves.   

It wasn't long before Afrotainment bigwig DJ Tira jumped on the Zodwa-bandwagon and started booking her for appearances. 


The Zimbabwean Tourism Authority booked Zodwa for a performance at the Harare International Carnival which was to take place in September 2017.

One month earlier the Tourism Authority announced during a media briefing that Zodwa was required to wear underwear for the performance, which she refused to do. 

According to the Tourism Authority, the chiefs and traditional leaders in attendance would be offended if she did not cover up her private parts.  

Later, Zimbabwean actress, Anne Nhira, reportedly complained about Zodwa being booked to perform at the festival saying that the organisers could have booked local performers instead. 

Anne allegedly also complained about Zodwa's provocative style, and reportedly referred to her as a lesbian. 

It was ultimately Anne's grievances which lead to Zodwa being banned from the festival.

Even though the ban was later lifted, Zodwa did not attend the event after the uproar. 

ALSO READ: Zodwa Wabantu undergoes vaginal rejuvenation surgery and shares experience on Instagram


Speaking to Daily Sun later that year Zodwa's manager DJ Tira said that the controversial entertainer would "now be charging between R30 000 and R35 000." 

Her fee had increased from a reported R25 000 - in only a few months. 


Controversial queens Zodwa Wabantu and Skolopad were both nominated in the same categories at the 2017 Feather Awards.

Both received a nominated in the Drama Queen of the Year category.

Ultimately, it was Zodwa who bagged the coveted title, only to have her award stripped away in 2019 after she made several homophobic remarks on TV. 


The following year in 2018, Zodwa caught the attention of TV producers and landed a cameo appearance on Uzalo.


In March that year Zambian authorities deported Zodwa Wabantu, saying that she would not be allowed to perform because she dances without underwear. 

She had been billed to perform at an album launch but was sent back when she landed at the Kenneth Kaunda international airport.

Zambia's religious affairs minister Godfridah Sumaili told AFP that Zodwa would not be allowed to perform in the country.

"Zambia is a Christian nation where morality and ethics have to be followed. We don't expect a woman to dance without underwear," he said.


After already having performed in the UK, America and Australia, Zodwa head to Dubai

Zodwa told The Daily Sun that she had no idea that she was known in Dubai but was grateful for the opportunity.


Zodwa stole the show for the second year in a row at the 2018 Durban July.

The dancer had all eyes on her, wearing a sexy lace cutout dress, which caused a stir at Greyville racecourse! (SEE PHOTOS HERE)


Zodwa posed nude for the Marie Claire's popular Naked Issue, this time with the theme of #DearBody.

As part of the campaign, she took the time to pen short messages to herself that encouraged body positivity.

"#DearBody, I'm sorry for the times I've hated you, especially the face. You're good to me - I mean it. You're soft and curvy, and full of a life lived well (according to me, that is). And that is all I could ever want from you," Zodwa wrote.


Zodwa delved into the world of reality TV, debuting Zodwa Wabantu: Uncensored on 25 July.

Broadcast on Mojo Love, Zodwa landed herself in hot water in July, when she made homophobic comments on the TV show. 

There was a call from different organisations for the show to be cancelled, which fell on deaf ears, and ultimately Zodwa offered a public apology


Whether it is because she paid lobola for her boyfriend, speaks openly about sex or wears little (or no) clothes,  Zodwa continues to make headlines for challenging social and gender norms. 

She proudly preaches self-love, sexual liberation and freedom of expression. 

ALSO READ: Zodwa Wabantu on getting her lobola back and keeping her wedding dress

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