‘I don’t have the balls to take my own life’ – SK Khoza opens up about mental health

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Actor Sithembiso 'SK' Khoza says he wishes people would be more kind to one another especially on social media.
Actor Sithembiso 'SK' Khoza says he wishes people would be more kind to one another especially on social media.
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Mental health is a big issue right now in South Africa and celebrities are not immune. With the rise in suicides and life post-pandemic, South Africans are a little more open about their emotions and have shown concern, more especially for men. 

Celebrities such as Sello Maake ka Ncube and the late Patrick Shai have started programmes that help men deal with issues related to mental wellness including depression, suicide, finances, and sexuality. Male artists AKA, Maraza, Emtee, and iFani have spoken up about fighting depression.

Every Tuesday real estate agent, businessman, and philanthropist ‘TT’ Mbha speaks to celebrity fathers and father figures in an Instagram Live talk show called Ama-Tyma Wellness Check-in. This is to check in on their mental, physical and financial wellness.

In the first week, he hosted The Wife actor Bonko Khoza and followed up with DJ Sbu, who spoke about understanding the currency on your social media and being able to monetize and put it in your will.

“I am targeting celebrities because they are public figures. They are expected to put a smile out there and be sincere and kind but they also go through their struggles. It's about taking timeout to see If they are doing well,” he says.

“Check in on your friends, give them a call and send them a message to see If they are good. We take the power of asking someone if they are okay for granted,” TT says.

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This week, TT speaks to award-winning actor Sithembiso ‘SK’ Khoza who has been making headlines. He was recently allegedly embroiled in a domestic violence case and soon after he was caught on camera, acting aggressive towards a man outside of a lodge in Mpumalanga.

Opening up about his physical wellness and mental wellness, SK addressed the reports about allegedly abusing his former partner Ayanda Hongwane.

It was reported that SK was arrested for allegedly beating up Ayanda and appeared at the Randburg magistrate court where he was released on R2000 bail. It was reported that the assault occurred after they got into a heated argument at Ayanda’s home. 

SK tells TT that he has never laid a hand on a woman.

“This is my question to South Africa, my country. Why hasn’t anybody called me to ask if I hit Ayanda Hlongwane? Does my country know that I went to court six and seven times and Ayanda never pitched, not once and she had to be subpoenaed?” he asks.

“When Ayanda arrived, she went to sign that she wants to drop the charges and reconcile with me.”

SK says he could easily expose his ex but he chooses the high road.

“Do people know the kind of messages I have on my phone, that I could easily post up. But I am not that kind of a person, I don’t fight fire with fire. But I can say it to you today, live, I have never hit a woman in my life,” he adds.

“Nobody asked me. When I read in the papers, they said that she was in the hospital with broken ribs and a swollen face. I know a lot of abused women in the world, and I know that what you do is you take footage of that to show the world the kind of abuse you’re going through.”

He says society painted him guilty before the court could decide.

“Being a statistic is the worst thing and worst of all a GBV one. If you have ever been around me, you know I love girls. I am not even scared to say that. As someone who is raising girls himself, you always have to think,” he says.

“The person who said I abused her never went out to the world, spoke out, or said anything. But I was guilty even before. That is our country. You are just guilty.”

SK says people struggle to separate him from his onscreen character of Shaka on The Queen. He also adds that he never spoke up because he still loves his ex-girlfriend.

“Love is a dangerous game and sadly enough, I still love Ayanda Hlongwane. But not to be with her,” he says.

“I wouldn’t want to drag her or anything down. But at the end of the day, I would not want to walk my entire life knowing I didn’t do something that I’m being accused of. No one came back to find out what exactly happened, we just moved on.”

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Not long ago, SK was seen in a video screaming and attempting to fight a man outside of Zebula Lodge in Limpopo. Other videos of the actor appearing to behave erratically also resurfaced. Some shocked social media users wondered if he was under the influence of some substance, or suffering from depression, while others speculated that he was behaving so strangely because he was bewitched by the mother of one of his children and sangoma, Gogo Maweni.

SK expressed his regret for the behaviour and apologised on social media.

“Forgive me for I have sinned and was trapped in a very dark space. To everyone that I was rude and mean to. My deepest apologies.”

Speaking to TT, he says when he saw the videos but did not recognise himself.

“People don’t care. If I had to tell everybody right now that I don’t remember a single thing of those videos, that scares me,” he says.

“We live in a world where people spike drinks or put things in people’s food. I think about that day and the fact that Black Coffee just won a Grammy award, and all people were talking about is SK. Do people understand that a Grammy is something even me as an actor, I would kill for.” 

SK says the focus shifted from celebrating the Grammy Award, but social media started attacking him.

“That Monday was evidence that we love negativity, and we thrive on it. It was a great moment for Black Coffee, and I felt bad myself because I was going through my own things. I am not heavily religious. But we need a miracle. I am scared of my country. We love to drag people,” he says.

“Uncle Sho (Shona Ferguson) said, ‘A negative mind can never have a positive life.’ Correct me if I’m wrong, but my perception is we all have problems, money, love, religion, family, or some sort of a problem. But if your heart is not pure, you use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as soon as SK goes through shit to get your answers through me by being nasty to me, you have a problem.”

After the videos surfaced, again, SK apologized. With eyes full of tears, he says he sent an apology for something he does not remember.

“I was apologising for something that I didn’t even know. I looked at those videos and couldn’t even recognize that person, myself. I asked, ‘who the fuck is this?”

But he adds that he is currently dealing with a personal matter that he cannot share as yet.

“There’s a very tough journey that I am going through and not allowed to talk about right now, it's one of the hardest things I have had to go through in my life. With that said, as hard as it is and as tough as I am because I am built out of steel, I don’t have the balls to take my life. I never thought of it. I say, this too shall pass.”

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Despite the negativity, SK says he loves acting but wishes to take away the fame and what comes with it. 

“I love what I do but I am not what I do. If I was Shaka, I’d have a gun and own a few pistols.”

He adds that he often has a challenge getting out of character because he is not professionally trained.

“I am a multi-award-winning actor who never went into a classroom. So, I have difficulty breaking out of character. In season one of The Queen, I had to sleep on the couch because of the nightmares I was having. I am able to say wrap and go home to my family. But when comes time to sleep, I am kicking on the bed. Instead of kicking my partner, I slept on the couch.” 

He says that he slept on the couch for six months because of nightmares.

SK loves acting and his fans and he enjoys being stopped for a picture and a greeting but says often fans don’t know when to give him space, especially when he is with his children and family.

“I love people in general. It’s an amazing thing to run into someone whether they call me Shaka or SK. It means you take time to watch me and then when you run into me you appreciate the work. Black people greet strangers every day,” he says. 

“There is a word called entitlement; you watch me on screen when you see me in real life, I am still human, I breathe and speak. I am just on-screen. It becomes tough when I am with my kids. But it’s sad that parents with their kids, get up and walk up to my table and ask for a picture. I never want to see a day where I leave my flesh and blood to entertain someone else. Instead of me cheering for my daughter, I have people asking for pictures and I missed the moment. I got to a point when I taught my kids, to say, I am sorry, but my daddy doesn’t take pictures in front of us. My 7-year-old loves it.”

He says he recently lost someone very close to him and that made him realise a few things in life.

“The hardest thing for a man to do is open up. Indoda iyohlezi iyindoda (A man will always be a man). Without women, there is no life. God gives us more and more because you have the capabilities to bring life, men can’t do that. Because talking is not easy, I cry in the shower,” he says.

“I live in a country when I speak about it, it’s easy to judge. People need to stop listening to respond but listen to understand. It is something that is not easy for human beings. The biggest machine you can take care of is the mind.”

SK publicly apologized to anyone and everyone he has ever hurt.

“To anyone I have hurt or disrespected, I humbly apologise.”

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