Life might begin at 40, but Thabong Gigaba proved the party doesn’t start until the birthday girl arrives.
Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba’s ex-wife turned 40 on February 16 and celebrated with a glitzy bash at Cape Town’s 15 on Orange Hotel on Friday night.
But despite the invitation asking guests to arrive at 6pm for 7pm, “Thabo”, as she is known to her friends, kept about 40 guests sipping Long Mountain Brut Méthode Cap Classique until 9.30pm, when she made her grand entrance with 12-year-old daughter Lerato at her side.
By 10.30pm, though, only 50 of the 80 expected guests had arrived, including Gigaba’s nieces, Amanda and Ayanda Nxumalo, from Maritzburg.
The festivities, which included a performance by the Gugulethu Tenors, started without so much as an apology from the red Christian Louboutin-shod guest of honour.
Gigaba, parliamentary liaison to Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, explained that a wardrobe malfunction had caused her late arrival.
“My outfit got stuck in New York so I had to rush to the (V&A) Waterfront,” she told City Press.
Dressed in keeping with the theme of black tuxedos for both men and woman, Gigaba wore tuxedo shorts by Gucci, a jacket from Ana Sousa and an Ascot tie.
Guests – among whom were ANC MP Thandile Sunduza, KwaZulu-Natal construction queen Cindy Mahlalempini, lawyer Barnabas Xulu, Government Communication and Information System director Ayanda Holo, Umhlobo Wenene DJ Amaza and Afro-soul singer Mtika – didn’t appear too perturbed at only starting dinner at 10pm.
“It’s African time. She’s the birthday girl. She can do as she pleases,” said one guest, tucking into a buffet, which included caprese salad, couscous, seared tuna, seafood paella, veal scallopini, butternut cannelloni, and lemon and herb chicken.
Bottles of Glenlivet 12-year-old, Warwick First Lady Cabernet Sauvignon and Du Plevaux Pinotage stood on each of the 12 tables.
A three-tier chocolate cake, adorned with red roses and a silver “Thabo 40”, stood near the main table.
The MC was poet Bulelwa Basse, who sung Gigaba’s praises despite admitting to only having met her at a dinner a week ago. Seating Gigaba in a chair on the dance floor, Basse recited “A Woman’s Journey” in honour of her new friend.
In 2010, the Gigabas were involved in a legal battle over their divorce, which ended in court after allegations and counterallegations of abuse. In 2007, Malusi was asked to repay the government R1 000 he spent on flowers for Thabong.
Gigaba said she planned to holiday in Mozambique with her family in April as a birthday gift to herself.