Trevor Noah’s stepfather made his family’s life a living nightmare, forcing the comedian to turn his back on his mother, whose suffering he could no longer bear to witness.
And when the funnyman finally confronted his former stepfather after he shot his mother repeatedly and left her for dead, Ngisaveni Shingange threatened to kill him.
The startling claims are contained in papers before the high court in Johannesburg, where Shingange applied to have his divorce from Nombuyiselo Noah rescinded.
On Thursday, Shingange’s house will be auctioned to cover his ex-wife’s legal costs, which he has been ordered to pay. And later this week, he will be sentenced in the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court, where he was found guilty of attempting to kill her.
In court papers, Nombuyiselo Noah (52), an estate agent, tells of years of abuse at Shingange’s hands. She divorced him in 1996, but they continued to live together in the Johannesburg suburb of Highlands North. In 2003, she says she was forced to move into a back-yard shack on the property with her 15-month-old son, where they lived for seven years.
Nombuyiselo Noah says Trevor stopped visiting her at this time because it was too much for him to see his mother going through hell.
In court papers, she said her former husband beat her with old bicycle frames in public and in front of her staff, slapped her, chased her down the street as she fled with their youngest child, and smashed phones and furniture.
Moving away in 2009, after she became engaged to her current husband, Sfiso Khoza, almost cost her her life. She says Shingange tracked her down and shot her in the back and face, shattering her jaw, piercing her skull, nose and ear, and leaving her unable to speak properly.
Minutes before she was shot, Nombuyiselo said her youngest son, then about seven, pleaded with his father to stop, saying: “Daddy, please do not shoot mommy!” But his pleas fell on deaf ears.
After the shooting, when Trevor Noah phoned his former stepfather to remonstrate with him, “Shingange advised Trevor that he was also coming after Trevor to kill him”.
Two months after the shooting, Nombuyiselo said in court papers that her ex-husband spread false rumours, reported in newspapers, that she ran slums in hijacked buildings in inner-city Johannesburg.
In January, Trevor Noah appeared on Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show, a first for a South African comedian, and is now based in Los Angeles. His agent, Gaenor Becker, said her client would not comment on his personal life.
Shingange claimed that he only became aware that his wife had divorced him in October 2009 and he went to court to ask for it to be reversed.
Aside from almost killing his ex-wife, Shingange also fired several shots at her husband, Khoza, whom she married in July 2009. Trevor paid her private hospital bills and she says she was treated under a different name because she feared Shingange would go there to “finish the job”.
In responding papers, Shingange did not answer her shooting allegations. “I have been advised not to comment at this stage since the matter is sub judice,” he said.
Repeated attempts to contact Shingange through his lawyer, Lord Mataboge, were unsuccessful.