Cooking with Somizi faces plagiarism allegations

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Dinner at Somizi's is the third reality show to have Mhlongo as its lead. (Facebook/ DSTV)
Dinner at Somizi's is the third reality show to have Mhlongo as its lead. (Facebook/ DSTV)
  • On 15 September 2020 journalist Eusebius McKaiser posted email receipts between a Hastings Moeng and the producers of Somizi Mhlongo’s cooking show. 
  • Although Moeng is not named in the show’s credits, the receipts allude to the show idea being Moeng’s intellectual property. 
  • Moeng has decided to take legal action.

On 28 July 2014 aspiring television producer Hastings Moeng sent television personality Somizi Mhlongo a reality show proposal via email. 


In describing the show that he would call Dinner kwa Somizi, Moeng said the following:

Dinner kwa Somizi is a weekly lifestyle and entertainment talk show that sees South African all-round entertainer Somizi Mhlongo [chatting] to fellow entertainers over dinner. Each 24 minutes long episode captures the drama that goes into preparing each meal as Somizi and his guest sweat it up in the kitchen before the actual [sit] down.

With the likes of Lilian Dube, Itumeleng Kune, Minnie Dhlamini and Aka as proposed guests, Dinner kwa Somizi was set to roll out through 13 episodes that would be shot in a studio. 

An email from Hastings Moeng where he proposed the
An email from Hastings Moeng where he proposed the show 'Dinner kwa Somizi' (Twitter)
An email from Hastings Moeng where he proposed the
An email from Hastings Moeng where he proposed the show 'Dinner kwa Somizi' (Twitter)
An email from Hastings Moeng where he proposed the
An email from Hastings Moeng where he proposed the show 'Dinner kwa Somizi' (Twitter)

After Mhlongo and Moeng agreed that the proposal was commercially viable, Moeng says he met with Legend Manqele in September of 2016. Manqele is the founder of TheBar Leader TV: the production house responsible for producing some of the country’s most popular reality shows. These include Dineo’s Diary, Rich Kids, Kwa MamKhize and Being Bonang

While in talks with Manqele, who would produce Dinner kwa Somizi, Moeng sent the local reality television gatekeeper a detailed synopsis of the show including a proposed running order, potential sponsors, set decoration, and guests.   

A synopsis by Hastings Moeng detailing his idea fo
A synopsis by Hastings Moeng detailing his idea for 'Dinner kwa Somizi'. (Twitter)
A synopsis by Hastings Moeng detailing his idea fo
A synopsis by Hastings Moeng detailing his idea for 'Dinner kwa Somizi'. (Twitter)
A synopsis by Hastings Moeng detailing his idea fo
A synopsis by Hastings Moeng detailing his idea for 'Dinner kwa Somizi'. (Twitter)
A synopsis by Hastings Moeng detailing his idea fo
A synopsis by Hastings Moeng detailing his idea for 'Dinner kwa Somizi'. (Twitter)

Six years later on 10 July 2020, DSTV’s lifestyle channel, 1 Magic premiered Dinner at Somizi’s, the third reality show to have Mhlongo as its lead. Here Somizi gets to know some of South Africa’s celebrities by cooking and sharing a meal with them in what is staged as his home.

Having aired 11 episodes, Dinner at Somizi’s follows Living the Dream With Somizi and its spin-off wedding special Somizi & Mohale: The Union. Although Dinner at Somizis is materially similar, in format and name, to the proposal Moeng sent Mhlongo six years ago, it credits Mhlongo and Manqele’s company, The BarLeader, as its creators. 


According to trademark and copyright law, copyright is infringed when a third party reproduces or adapts a work without licence of authorisation from the owner of the copyright. And in order for Moeng’s idea to be protected, it needs to exist in material form through a document or email. 

In response to this, Moeng has decided to take legal action. Earlier today Moeng’s lawyer, Mabu Marweshe spoke to Sowetan:

I can confirm that we act on behalf of Hastings Moeng and we have issued a letter of demand to Multichoice. I cannot however divulge much ... but my client is seeking recognition for his idea.


According to Sowetan, the letter is requesting to see how much Dinner at Somizis is making in order for Moeng to negotiate his cut of the show’s royalties. Apart from this Moeng also asked for an apology, for implementing Moeng’s proposal without consent, as well as to be acknowledged in the credits going forward. 

Moeng’s claim will not affect the airing of the show’s remaining episodes. 

Arts24 could not reach Manqele at the time of publishing. 



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