The phenomenon of the kept woman is universal. So it follows that locally, there are many caught in the same situation.
An example is socialite Khanyi Mbau who seems to be stuck in a never-ending cycle as a kept woman. In 2006, she married rich beau Mandla Mthembu after a whirlwind romance. The pair kept the gossip rags alive with their extravagant spending sprees and matching fancy sports cars. However, that fairytale started showing cracks barely a year into the relationship. During a candid interview with Bona magazine in September last year, the socialite opened up about her volatile marriage. She claimed that the beatings began in November 2006 when she was eight months pregnant with their daughter. She says she stayed with him because she believed he would change.
The couple’s troubled marriage became public knowledge after Mthembu allegedly assaulted Khanyi at the South African Music Awards (Samas) in Sun City.
She claimed the beatings continued even after he promised to stop.
“There was a time he beat me up at his father’s unveiling. He swore at me, grabbed me by my hair and dragged me out of the tent and onto the street in front of his whole family. People stopped him, but his mother didn’t say a word. I never set foot there again.”
After her divorce, Mbau moved on to yet another volatile relationship with the rich but married Theunis Crous. Again, everything was great in the beginning with the two appearing enamoured of each other and of the limelight, with Crous buying the pint-sized Mbau gifts and cars.
Again, the trouble began when Crous’ wife Primrose started fighting for her man. Since then, Mbau and her sugar daddy have taken restraining orders against each other. As for Primrose, she stuck by her man despite his infidelity.
There are a depressing number of local women so enthralled with the fame, wealth and glamour of their men they allow them to run roughshod over them.
When they started dating, boxing champ Dingaan Thobela – the Rose of Soweto – and beauty queen Basetsana Kumalo (then Makgalemele) seemed like a match made in kasi heaven. However, it has since come to light that the boxer would sometimes use his then girlfriend as a punching bag.
Mark Fish and his ex-wife Loui also made headlines last year when their divorce turned ugly and all sorts of details were revealed. These include Loui’s claims that her former Bafana Bafana hero husband had had sex with “several women”, visited stripclubs and paid call-girls and prostitutes for sex.
In court papers, Loui also said he physically and emotionally abused her; pulled her hair, kicked her, swore at her and hurled kitchenware at her.
Another upscale abuser is rugby hero James Small who admitted to physically abusing his former fiance Christina Storm during their tempestuous relationship.
Cricketer Herschelle Gibbs also joined the list when his then estranged wife Teneille branded him a compulsive liar who became emotionally abusive when he drank alcohol.
While some have escaped their gilded cages, there are many who would rather suffer in silent opulence than give up the life. Which begs the question: is it a price worth paying?
» The 16 days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children will be marked from November 15 to December 10