It’s the humiliation that hurts most. These are the words of the woman who claims she was assaulted by gqom queen Babes Wodumo – only hours after Babes herself said she’d allegedly been beaten by her on-off boyfriend, Mampintsha. She thought she was going to “be killed” by Babes and her entourage, Nelisiwe Zondi (29) says after she invites DRUM into her Durban home to recount that night.
The KwaZulu-Natal businesswoman says she will never forget how she was left battered and bruised, allegedly at the hands of Babes (24), her manager and sister Nondumiso Simelane (28) and musician Thobeka “Tipcee” Ndaba (30).
The drama all started when Nelisiwe, who runs a business importing highend fashion, was invited to a guesthouse in Glenwood, Durban, by a friend for a few drinks on the evening of 4 March. She was surprised to find Babes and about 14 other people there as she was under the impression it was to be a private meeting between her and her friend. Still, in the beginning everything was fine.
“There was a lot of expensive champagne, like Moët & Chandon, and other alcoholic drinks. We were all having fun. I remember Babes even complimented my sandals,” says Nel i siwe, who hadn’t met the singer before that night. Her friend was the one who knew Babes.
Everyone got on well – until the drinks ran out.
“The alcohol was finished and my friend still wanted more. She said she would go and buy more, but I tried to stop her because I could see that she was in no state to be driving. Babes and I even tried to hide her car keys to prevent her from going, but she started screaming.”
Her friend took her keys and left, leaving Nelisiwe with Babes and her entourage who proceeded “to start gossiping about my friend”.
“I didn’t like this so I started taking video clips so I could warn my friend about her so-called friends. I knew she trusted them and wouldn’t believe me without evidence,” Nelisiwe says.
When Babes saw her filming them, she claims the singer “grabbed my phone and she and her friend started insulting me”.
“They called me a bitch and accused me of working for Mampintsha.”
She alleges she was shoved to the floor by the trio who rained blows on her with their fists and feet. “I thought I was dying. They took turns stomping on me with their feet. I was traumatised and I screamed for help, but they didn’t stop. I believe the neighbours called the police because there was so much noise and screaming coming from the guesthouse.
NELISIWE wasn’t the only person on her phone that night, nor was she the only one filming the celebrity in their company, she says. “I don’t know why Babes was so offended – there were at least two other people taking videos.”
The alleged attack on Nelisiwe came shortly after it was reported Babes had been assaulted by Mampintsha. A video of the manager hitting her had gone viral and Babes was believed to be in hospital and traumatised, according to her father, Mbongeni Simelane. Yet Nelisiwe claims Babes was attacking her and wasn’t in a hospital bed.
The police arrived at the guesthouse and broke up the women’s fight. Nelisiwe tried to open an assault case that night, but police told her to come back the following day.
“When I got back to my place I was in pain and swollen. I sent a text message to my friend informing her about the incident,” she says.
Nelisiwe claims she suffered multiple injuries to her right leg, back and arms. The next morning she was contacted by Senzo Shezi, who Nelisiwe believes is Tipcee’s manager.
“He offered to pay my medical bills and took me to King Dinuzulu Hospital, a public hospital. After this they drove me to my place and handed me R1 000 which they said was ‘for food’.
“They said I must phone them whenever I feel pain.”
When contacted by DRUM, Shezi told us he knows nothing about the incident or Nelisiwe’s claims. But Nelisiwe is standing by her story. Shezi and her alleged attackers told her they would “be bringing some more celebrities to check up on me”.
“But I wasn’t interested in their offer. I felt undermined and insulted by this gesture. The fact that they are celebrities does not give them the right to assault people. I can’t be bought. I want justice to take its course.”
Later that day she opened a case of common assault and “within minutes of opening the case I received calls and text messages from Shezi, begging me not to open the case.
“They tried to bribe me with R30 000 but I refused their money. Then they increased the amount to R50 000 but I still refused it.”
Nelisiwe shows us the text messages, allegedly from Senzo, sent on 5 March, which read: “Please do not open the case I am begging you. I will make sure that we cover everything, please I am begging you.”
HER business has suffered in the wake of the attack, Nelisiwe says. She has had to postpone business trips overseas and her clients have had delays getting their clothing orders. Her injuries continue to trouble her too.
“I’m still limping and I can’t wear certain clothes as I have injuries on my legs,” she says. Babes, Tipcee and Nondumiso were due to appear in court on 5 April on the assault charge, but didn’t arrive.
The sisters later claimed they had car problems while Tipcee said she was ill. Babes and Nondumiso were found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to a R1 000 fine each or three months’ imprisonment.
Tipcee produced a medical certificate, which was accepted by the court. The trio appeared briefly in court on 24 April and are set to appear again on 15 May, the same day Mampintsha is due in court for his alleged assault on Babes. He has also opened an assault case against Babes.
Babes, Nondumiso and Tipcee were repeatedly contacted by DRUM over several days for comment but they did not answer their phones or respond to text messages.