Johannesburg – The Idols runner-up Mthokozisi Ndaba (25) from KwaMashu stunned the South African media on Sunday night when he pulled a disappearing act and refused to attend the Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) post-show press conference after Paxton Fielies (17) was crowned the winner of the 13th season.
Mthokozisi's seat behind his name card and microphone next to Paxton Fielies awkwardly remained conspicuously empty for the entire duration of the press conference at Carnival City after the conclusion of the 2-hour live broadcast.
Mzansi Magic executives and Idols producers, themselves caught on the backfoot and without time to even remove his name from the table, simply told the press that Mthokozisi Ndaba is "composing himself".
With his no-show he became the first runner-up ever in the 13 seasons of the show not to appear alongside the winner before the media.
In the past the Idols runner-up would always also face the media, discuss their plans moving forward, accept their prizes and graciously congratulate the winner.
M-Net always releases the final voting tally and voting statistics over the course of the season after two weeks following a season finale, so it's not yet known by how many more votes and what voting percentage Paxton Fielies won over Mthokozisi Ndaba.
More than 30 million votes were cast the past week for the winner, of which Paxton got the majority.
Mthokozisi was orphaned when he was 14 and failed matric in 2009. He went back and passed in 2012.
Then in February this year he was shot in his leg during a traumatic robbery at home while he was busy with Idols.
He literally limped back to the competition, and initially kept what had happened a secret from Idols producers.
Dealing with rejection in showbiz
On Sunday night the Idols producers were specifically asked what type of psychological and emotional support the show provides to contestants during – and after – the show.
"We provide counselling of their choice. Some people ask if they can maybe see a pastor, some people want to see a psychologist, so we do offer all those services to the contestants. And whether they take them up is purely up to them," said Gavin Wratten, Idols executive producer.
"That is why we also have someone have someone like a Donald Moatshe as the Idols mentor who's part of the team. His mentorship to them is not just about how to sing a song, but also how to deal with rejection in the industry."
"Because it is a reality show and this is basically what happens in the industry: You go and say 'Here's my single', and someone says 'Yes' to someone, and they say 'No' to somebody else."
"But we do offer as much support as possible. We have people with them 24/7, looking after them, and if there's any hassle, we've got a doctor on call, we've got everybody standing by," said Wratten.
Nondumiso Mabece, head of publicity at M-Net local entertainment channels, stressed that emotional support of Idols contestants "is not something that's only done at the end of the show. It's done throughout the show".
"On a weekly basis the contestants get an opportunity to speak to someone like a psychologist throughout the show. It's not just emotional after – like today – it's emotional what they go through every single week."
"Definitely the emotional support provided to Idols contestants is something that is very important to us."
(Photo: Thinus Ferreira)