Their romance began with a flirtation on Instagram followed by a whirlwind engagement and, for a while, they were the envy fof many of their friends and fans, but few people covet the drama that’s been dogging footballer Siyabonga Zulu and his baby mama, Lee-Ann Makopo.
Siyabonga (25) has been booted from Mamelodi Sundowns and now has a warrant of arrest with his name on it after he failed to appear in court in a papgeld case brought by 32-year-old Lee-Ann. Lee-Ann, a sangoma and airfreight controller for a Boksburg company, says she is just trying to get what’s due to her 10-month-old son.
“I’m not trying to get back with Siya or demean or embarrass him,” she says. “I have two other kids and their fathers provide for them. Sometimes I have to take money meant for the other kids to make sure Siya’s son is fine. I come from a well- off family but I’m not going to degrade myself and ask my parents for money.” Lee-Ann is so determined to get the footballer to cough up she’s appeared on the Moja Love show No Excuses, Pay Papgeld, which aired this month.
“I’ve given Siya a lot of chances but he doesn’t want to wake up and smell the coffee,” she tells DRUM. Accompanied by the television show’s crew, she went to Mamelodi Sundowns’ headquarters in Chloorkop where club spokesperson Thulani Thuswa said Siyabonga had been fired after failing to arrive at a disciplinary hearing into his frequent absences.
“I was shocked,” Lee-Ann says, “but I won’t stop fighting. He’s living off the money he got from Sundowns and my son deserves a share.” Lee-Ann claims Siyabonga is still living large from the severance pay he got from Sundowns and bought himself two cars – one of which cost R1 million: “He is blowing the money. In Soweto they call him Umapressa (one who is impressing).”
Lee-Ann says Siyabonga was the one who followed her on Instagram in the beginning. "I don’t follow people, they follow me,” she declares. “His Instagram wasn’t something I would follow. I wasn’t really into soccer peo ple even though a lot of them follow me.” At the time Siyabonga was playing for Platinum Stars and was based in Rustenburg in North West. After exchanging flirty messages they had a lunch date in Joburg and the following weekend she drove to Rustenburg to see him, which she did several times. The bubbly suburbanite and the township boy were an unlikely couple but they loved being together.
“We’re from separate worlds,” but, she adds, with him she could really be herself. “I didn’t have to pretend.” She introduced him to her two sons and they hit it off too. “When I was going to visit him he’d say I must bring the kids too. He was more of a father to my two boys than he is to his own son now,” Lee-Ann says. After the soccer season ended Siya- bonga moved in with her at her mother’s house in Mondeor, Joburg.
“He said he was fed up with playing football. We stayed in a cottage on my mother’s property. I asked him to go back to Platinum Stars but he refused. He told me he was going to sign with Mamelodi Sundowns,” she says. A month later she discovered she was pregnant. “He wasn’t like ‘oh my God’ excited but he was okay with it. He even told me he wanted to settle down.” Tension set in when she learnt of late- night phone calls from women who claimed to be her boyfriend’s lovers.
“I had issues with this. His phone would be on flight mode or face down. I questioned such things.” Siyabonga dismissed her worries and proposed to her to prove he was serious about their relationship. “Siya isn’t a romantic,” she says. “He’s a typical township boy. We went to Maponya Mall and he bought me a ring. That’s how he proposed,” she says, laughing. Problems cropped up again when Siyabonga stopped sending money to his family.
“They blamed me for it,” Lee-Ann says. “I was accused of spending his money. I was told he had two other kids that I didn’t know about. Siya only told me he had one child who lived with his mother.” Siyabonga eventually ended up returning to Rustenburg when an aunt persuaded him to go back to Platinum Stars for the 2017 season. The wheels came off when Lee-Ann saw a tweet from one of Siyabonga’s baby mamas saying she and her child were in Rustenburg to see “daddy”.
Lee-Ann, heavily pregnant, was furious and headed to North West with a friend. “When I got there the baby mama was in one room while Siya was in another with another girl. When he opened the door, he was drunk.” She says she “accidentally pushed” Siyabonga, who fell against a staircase. “He beat me so badly,” she alleges.
“His teammates came to stop him. I was in shock.” She laid assault charges but withdrew them because she forgave him, she says. The case made headlines and his club offered the couple counselling. She also didn’t get along with his family, she says. “I felt like I was constantly fighting to be with him. Siya loves his family a lot and he tells them what they want to hear and then tells me something else,” she says. The couple broke up before their baby was born but Siyabonga was present for his son’s birth. They decided to give it an- other go but it was short-lived.
“He asked me to move closer to him so he could spend more time with his son. He gave me R2 000 for maintenance and promised to give me more,” Lee-Ann says. He gave her another R5000 for maintenance about four months ago, Lee- Ann adds, but she hasn’t received a cent since. “Siya has been taking advantage of me because I come from a well-off family. I cannot expect my parents to buy me nappies.
I will not be disrespected like that.” When contacted by DRUM, Siyabonga refused to comment, saying he will only do so when the matter has been finalised and the two families have met to resolve it.