Bizarre Motsoeneng wife gift briefing surprises media

2014-06-22 18:36

Johannesburg - Journalists were forced to take off their shoes, and get down on their knees before Venda traditional leaders at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Sunday.

The bizarre briefing was over a report by the Sowetan newspaper last week that SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng had been given a wife as a gift.

At the start of the briefing by Mudzi Wa Vhurereli ha Vhavenda, a lobby group of Venda traditional leaders and healers, reporters were instructed to remove their shoes and get on bended knees so that they could perform a cultural ritual before beginning.

Most journalists were stunned by the instruction, but got down so that the briefing could go ahead.

Members of Mudzi, in brightly coloured traditional attire, and two young bare-breasted women constantly bowed and did loud ritual ululating throughout the briefing before each member could speak.

This ritual sometimes required them to lie on the floor.

Only one in the group, Gladys Nethengwe, could speak some English. Before the briefing could begin, she asked if any of the media present could translate for them, as they all only spoke in their traditional Venda tongue. She was under the impression that the different media groups had their own interpreters there.

Despite the language barrier, she proceeded to start the briefing in her mother-tongue but was interrupted by journalists.

After some convincing, Nethengwe agreed to translate what each member was saying.

One of the bare-breasted women was Vanessa Mutswari, the 23-year-old college student who was reportedly given to Motsoeneng as a gift. Mutswari said she was engaged to be married to someone else and that the 13 June report in the Sowetan was not true.

"I'm saying with my own mouth, I was not given to anybody," Nethengwe interpreted for Mutswari.

"That is not Venda tradition. I'm proud of what I am and my culture. I was not half-naked. It's a shedo [Tshivenda traditional attire]. I will continue wearing it."

'Life would go on'

She said the report in the Sowetan last Friday had caused problems for her and almost destroyed her pending marriage.

Mutswari, an avid soccer player and a college beauty queen, said life would go on despite the article and that she would talk to her husband-to-be about it.

Nethengwe, interpreting for other members of Mudzi, dismissed the allegation that ten girls were lined up for Motsoeneng.

She said there were only four girls that were part of a procession, and two were ushers.

"What is being said is not true. According to Venda law, if someone visits you, you have to give gifts," she said.

"We offered a cow... We gave the entire SABC a cow and a calf. It was not directed to a certain somebody."

She explained that the girls left the procession to accompany Motsoeneng to show him his gifts.

"Our hearts are bleeding because of the lies," Nethengwe translated for another member.

"A wife cannot be given to any ordinary person. A chief is entitled to choose two or more girls with a pre-arrangement with parents."

She said Venda King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, who is not part of their lobby group, was disturbed and saddened by the reports in the media.

Retraction demands

The Sowetan carried the report with a picture of Motsoeneng next to the woman and the cow, and Sapa lifted the story from them.

The group insisted on giving a hard copy response to the Sowetan and Sapa on the matter on Sunday.

They instructed the Sowetan and Sapa journalists separately to come to the front to collect the document. After much resistance from the reporters, Mudzi demanded the document be taken as it was their response to what they claimed were "lies" printed in the publications.

The leaders instructed the reporters to get down on their knees to receive the paper, while a ritual was carried out. Reporters refused but were told they could not go ahead unless they got down on their knees.

Something that looked like grain was put onto the document, then what sounded like a prayer was said.

The bare-breasted women lay on the floor next to the journalists while this happened.

The grain was rolled off the paper into a pot, and the paper handed to the journalists by the bare-breasted girls.

Last Friday, the Sowetan newspaper reported that traditional Venda chiefs gave Motsoeneng a wife, a cow and a calf as a gift.

It reported that 10 women were lined up in Thohoyandou, Limpopo, for Motsoeneng to choose one as a wife. He and other SABC executives were in the area for a meeting with Mudzi.

"The girls were around 10 and they paraded for him to choose. He chose the one he liked," Mudzi executive secretary Humbelani Nemakonde was quoted as saying in the Sowetan report.

"All the girls were there with their parents. Their parents knew what was going to happen and they all agreed."

On Sunday, the group dismissed quotes in the story by Nemakonde and others as untrue.

It further demanded a retraction of the reports.

  • Tshivhenga Ndou - 2014-06-22 18:55

    In Venda it is said: "Vhuhosi a vhu ambuwi, hu ambuwa vhunanga", loosely translated it means a King is only a king in his kingdom but an inyanga is an inyanga everywhere. It was not necessary to humiliate people like that in the name of culture. Would they do the Zulu culture in Venda to honour a Zulu King? They honoured Zuma the Venda way. That group has grandeur delusions.

      Linds Ron-House - 2014-06-22 19:31

      @Tshivhenga, if you visit the Queen of Great Britain you get briefed on how to behave, which side to stand, etc. There is a way things are done there. When you visit a Mosque there is Mosque etiquette. You can't walk in with your dirty shoes, hat and sunglasses just because you're a journalist. It has nothing to do with humiliation. I'm quite sure you know the saying that when you're in Rome you do as the Romans do.

      NoAbsolutes - 2014-06-22 19:36

      @Linds, they weren't in 'Rome', they were in Jo'burg .....

      NoAbsolutes - 2014-06-22 19:38

      And they weren't being given a royal audience - this was a "briefing by Mudzi Wa Vhurereli ha Vhavenda, a lobby group of Venda traditional leaders and healers".

      Tshivhenga Ndou - 2014-06-22 19:49

      Yes Linds, if you VISIT the Queen or the Mosque. Not when the Queen or Mosque COMES to you. The lobby group was in JOHANNESBURG!!! Not in Venda. Culture or not, what they did was ridiculous. And trust me, I know MY culture!

      Linds Ron-House - 2014-06-22 20:04

      @Tshivhenga, if a high court sits in a magistrate (lower) court building (as it happened in Rodovan Krejcir's case), which rules apply? Those of the high court or those of the magistrate court?

      Lilian Looney - 2014-06-22 20:16

      Jesus Linds, you are a real know it all. Your arguments always try to look intelligent when in fact it is the reverse. What has the high court or magistrate court got to do with this???? You are so bloody condescending as if we idiots don't know the difference between the two that you have to put it in brackets! Know when to give up and accept you are not the boff you think you are. Eish!

      Tshivhenga Ndou - 2014-06-22 20:19

      Lilian, thank you. I rest my case Linds!!

      Linds Ron-House - 2014-06-22 20:32

      @Lilian and Tshivenga, lol. I've made my point - that the fact that the event took place in Joburg does not change the rules. And I'm talking about the principle here, not Venda culture (which I have not pretended to know anything about).

      Linds Ron-House - 2014-06-22 20:46

      @Leonard, my dear friend. The mistake you make is to assume that the western way of doing things is the only correct one. For example you talk about polygamy as bad, just because it is frowned upon in western cultures. But how about homosexuality? A Zulu person (since you referred to them) might see homosexuality as grotesque as you see polygamy. You love cats, I hate them. Irritating little animals. But I love dogs. As I write this, my little Brownie is lying on my lap. Different strokes for different folks.

      Lilian Looney - 2014-06-22 21:03

      Ha Linds. I'm sure cats feel the same about you. Irritating little human.

      Bongani Mtsweni - 2014-06-22 22:06

      I know nothing about Venda culture but jist like whites want us to respect their culture like the queen you made an example of , so is any African culture. We can not be undermined in our backyard

      ToldYouSo - 2014-06-23 01:42

      Hahaha! Are the knuckles scraped yet or are you still dragging them? Great comment feed.

      Kevin Marsh - 2014-06-23 06:33

      What a laugh ?

      Brolloks En Bittergal - 2014-06-23 09:46

      Is Motsoeneng really a Venda? His surname suggests that he is a Mopedi or Mosotho. Does anybody know?

      Leroy Reynolds - 2014-06-23 10:36

      Linds, how can you compare polygamy with homosexualuity...the one is a tradition based..the other is mentally based! So I have no idea how you are making your point but these two matter are not similar not in the slightest. People don't choose their sexuality, but they do choose who they marry.

      Nhamo Dzenyika - 2014-06-23 11:40

      I somehow like and understand Linds's argument. He makes some very relevant points

  • Paige Turner - 2014-06-22 18:58

    This is bizarre enough the warrant being turned into a Leon Schuster movie --- I say call it The Bartered Bride.

  • philip.buys.1 - 2014-06-22 19:03

    Wahaha, makes me think of one of the Shuster movies. But then again trust is to earned, and trusting to easily makes a fool out of you, as the media found out. Piet Retief found the same with Dingaan, so trusting the traditional ones, might turn out to be a costly affair.

  • Willem Vd Hoven - 2014-06-22 19:11


  • Menzi Mnandi Phewa - 2014-06-22 19:15


  • NoAbsolutes - 2014-06-22 19:24

    Bizarre is an understatement. And these journalists went along with it? You've got to be kidding.

  • Trevor Whitehead - 2014-06-22 19:24

    Lol..dumb journalists

  • Lynda Pitcher - 2014-06-22 19:29

    Scares me that the press can distort things in an attempt to destroy people's lives

  • Nozipho Mayihlome - 2014-06-22 19:30

    this was witchcraft@ broad daylight,u cannot enforce your beliefs and traditions on unsuspecting people or anyone;these journalists were desparate for a story and they fell for some barbaric rituals,which i believe they were being bewitched...Vendas,whomever culture stop going around emphasizing your beliefs on anyone,do it in your own respective places! and you foolish journos you fell for it! this is Africa kuyathakathwa!

  • Wa Tswera - 2014-06-22 19:32

    These people are sick in the head, Vho Gladys Nethengwe is one sick woman who seeks nothing but attention, if they want to create their new culture they must say so, Vhavenda people dont practice Zulu traditions of making woman men objects and property. We Vhavenda people respect our woman.Mudzi must get their facts straight, they dont represent Vhavenda, maybe only in Thengwe where Gladys Nethengwe comes from.

      Eddie Sibiya - 2014-06-22 20:26

      You must get your facts correct first dwarf, Zulu people don't make women objects, in Zulu culture women are not forced into polygamy, instead they must do it voluntarily, Get this one correct Mr dwarf, polygamy is not confined only in Zulu culture for you to call it a Zulu culture. Do your research properly before you open your reckless mouth, the late Nelson Ramodike the leader of of Lebowa/Lebowakgomo had two wives and he's not Zulu but a Pedi, King Mswati has thirteen wives and he's not Zulu but a Swati, the fmr Nigerian Pres Obasanjo has more than wives and he's not Zulu but a Yaruba, the Saudi Arabia monarch has more than one wives and he's not Zulu but an Arab/Wahab. So I want you read, read and read until your ignorance has been erased otherwise you must keep your reckless mouth shut or exercise your right to remain silence otherwise you're embarrasing yourself

  • Phil Galpin - 2014-06-22 19:36

    South African journalists lost their credibility when they did not walk out with their colleague, after he was harangued by JuJu! Now they kow-tow to an antediluvian misogynist. Get what they deserve!

      Marang Lesedi - 2014-06-22 20:21

      Ever been to Japan, India, China, etc? Seems they too would fit your ignorant classification of 'antediluvian mysoginists'. Apparently the redneck Afrikaaner are the epitome of modernism.

      Phil Galpin - 2014-06-22 21:47

      'Two men, aged 51 and 61, have been arrested in Koster for allegedly raping a 10-year-old girl, They were the victim's uncle and grandfather respectively.' That's what I mean by 'antediluvian misogynist', and someone supposedly living in Kansas should know what I am talking about! Giving a young woman as a 'gift' or using their 10 year old female relative as a sexual object are the same in my book! Bet your a wow with the feminists!

      philip.buys.1 - 2014-06-22 23:50 are one sick puppy. This country consists of different culturals, but abusing womens rights and trying to sell it as Venda tradition is criminal.

      kmw13047 - 2014-06-23 06:39

      @Marang, get your so called facts right! Redneck refers to the white Englishmen, Afrikaaner refers to the Afrikaans speaking people!

  • Talifhani Maitakhole - 2014-06-22 19:44

    That's not Vendas culture. Y that group collided with Vhavenda king Mphephu. They take women as objects. Shame on u mudzi wa satan and SABC COO. Go to hell.

  • Tshivhenga Ndou - 2014-06-22 20:15

    Actually, if this group is promoting Venda Culture why are they called by names such as "GLADYS" and "VANESSA"? Are those names given to them by their ancestors?

      Marang Lesedi - 2014-06-22 22:25

      They most likely do have tshiVenda names, which some us would find impossible to pronounce. So for our sakes they reckoned 'Gladys' and 'Vanessa' would do.

      Bernd Kankowski - 2014-06-22 22:36

      Eish! Selective appreciation of who you are. If it's part of the culture then practise it as it should be practised. What's with the westernised names? Easier to pronounce? What's with the weave and extensions? Not happy with the hair? What happened to the traditional clothing, beads and headgear? Not as comfortable as Carducci and Armani? If you are a traditionalist then be one and don't select bits and pieces of your tradition when it suits your needs.

  • themba.nsele.71 - 2014-06-22 20:17

    They have already damaged the vendor tradition, what next??

  • Carolyn Neser - 2014-06-22 20:19

    it is fairly obviously the intent to intimidate the reporters into never again reporting anything that the Venda powers that be wouldnt like to see in print ... but for all that, if there were language problems the second time round, it is quite possible that there were misinterpretations at the first occasion.

  • Gerhard Willemse - 2014-06-22 20:36


  • Douglas Gwanyanya - 2014-06-22 20:39

    gossip editors spewing a concoction of cultural disrespect and gutter tactics to please some and annoy others.

  • Solomon Repeant - 2014-06-22 21:03

    so how can we trust ds media who lied to us ,, thats what Ramaphosa the good the bad but trueth

  • Given Phiri - 2014-06-22 22:10

    media mst allowed themself to investigating until find truth before published their story to the readers

  • colin.zungu - 2014-06-22 22:15

    @Linds,i agree with.Why is everyone against Linds when he's arguments are very clear n intelligently articulated? This is Africa we do things the African way.I can tell that many of you guys claim to be Africans and South Africans yet you don't have a clue about other Africans cultural practices.Educate yourselves by attending our functions ukuze niqaqeke la emakhanda enu.

      Brolloks En Bittergal - 2014-06-23 08:12

      To you I also pose the question: Is ukuthwala okay in your books?

  • Phillip M Seopa - 2014-06-22 22:31

    Women are on sale ko Venda

  • Rudzani Culture Mudau - 2014-06-22 22:43

    The Sowetan Newspaper journalist who wrote that article last week is a "damn blasted liar" just like Christopher Columbers or Christopher Cum-bus-us.

      Brolloks En Bittergal - 2014-06-23 09:37


  • Progress Knowles - 2014-06-22 23:19

    I still believe what the media reported. If the king in Venda did not summon the chief to explain this nonsense, I don't think the story would have been changed. They are embarassed now including the sabc coo who has a junior certificate and lunch time courses. I am so concern about this HR student on what advice will she give to the employees.

  • Mkululi Ngqeza - 2014-06-22 23:24

    its good to have a culture to force those who undermine our culture to bow at us to show respect to us you must bow its all sbout that you must bow to show respect i know you dont like it

  • JeanClaude Vandamme - 2014-06-22 23:50

    and as usual journalists lied_ Mxm! never believe anything you read

  • connie.malinga - 2014-06-23 00:41

    I don't think there is anything wrong for us as African reserving our culture and reclaiming what was taken by colonisation. Personal I wouldn't parade for anyone except my man.

  • makhavhu.thenga - 2014-06-23 03:43

    Why say Bizarre, you will gladly bow to England Queen why not to your own local King. Respect royal blood and please report what happened but do not be sacarstic in your report.

      Valkyriaza - 2014-06-23 08:32

      Because we live in democracy, not a monarchy and will not bow to tinpot tribal chieftains. Which is exactly what they are, to be a king you supposed to have a proper monarchy, which is impossible in a democratic state.\ Stop using culture as an excuse. If people persist in freezing culture from hundreds of years ago and try to stuff it down 21st century throats this culture will die. That's a lesson of life. In order to keep alive the culture must evolve and grow with its own people.

  • James Kiwalabye - 2014-06-23 05:24

    There goes my friend LUMADI HAAAHA

  • Obed Mazwi - 2014-06-23 06:52

    There's nothing bizarre here you stupid journalists at sapa. Leave the Vendas to live their lives as they please. You went to them and then they must change their culture to accomodate you? These imperialist tendensies must stop, this is AfriKa, live with it or leave...

      Brolloks En Bittergal - 2014-06-23 11:41

      Obed, You live in SOUTH Africa where everybody has a right to dignity and where servitude and forced marriages are unconstitutional. These stupid tendensies must stop, this is democratic SOUTH AfriKa, live with it or leave (to the Bantustans)...

  • Spijo Skhokho - 2014-06-23 06:58

    I did not read nor saw a Sowetan headline but I heard it with my own ears on SABC that a cow, sheep and a girl was girl was given as presents to the SABC COO

  • Rendani Nemavhidi - 2014-06-23 07:23

    As if we haven't had enough embarassments from our leaders already, now this!

      Brolloks En Bittergal - 2014-06-23 09:41

      Yes, we should be reminded that they are only leaders (a lobby group) - not even the king. Is it custom to take off your shoes and bow to lobby groups?? Surely not.

  • Ntando Khoza - 2014-06-23 07:50

    I'm saddened by Sowetan who I thought will be sensitive to African customs. Cultural bigotry is nothing but racism. The Queen of England is afforded all the cultural rights but not Venda King.

      Valkyriaza - 2014-06-23 08:33

      She is a Queen of her country, not some local tribal chief.

      Brolloks En Bittergal - 2014-06-23 09:43

      Venda king was not there, was he?

  • Ntando Khoza - 2014-06-23 07:51

    I'm saddened by Sowetan who I thought will be sensitive to African customs. Cultural bigotry is nothing but racism. The Queen of England is afforded all the cultural rights but not Venda King.

  • Themba Dhlomo - 2014-06-23 10:23

    the writer of this article has contempt and disrespect for cultures of black people why the hell didnt he or she leav there briefing if its a bizarre event

      Andrew MacDonald - 2014-06-23 10:40

      you think being forced to participate in a cultural practice that is not your own is a good thing? hahahahahahahaha. thats so funny. bizarre actually.

  • Jacqui Daane Van Rensburg - 2014-06-23 10:44

    Culture should be treasured and respected, but in this case it is becoming ridiculous. Motsoeneng, an educated man, should never have allowed this to come so far. He should have protected the vulnerable instead of allowing them to becoming the laughing stock of the country.

  • Nicholas Smith - 2014-06-23 11:02

    bwahahaha, total bunch of idiots all of them in that room

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