Independence you can trust
28 June 2017 21:21 (South Africa)
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Not the political analysis: Khanyisile Mbau

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

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khanyisile mbau

She’s been called by many, including herself, the Paris Hilton of South Africa. Mind you, Ms Hilton could learn a thing or two from Khanyisile Mbau.

I love Khanyi Mbau. There. I said it. I'm out in the open. Okay, I can see why you don’t really care. But think about it. She's the best possible tabloid fodder in South Africa today. Missing that pic of Zuma's 20th? Or Sheryl Cwele? Don't worry, put Khanyisile Mbau on the front page. She's the Julius Malema of the less-than-serious press. And we should all be grateful.

Funnily enough, she has nothing to offer. No original skills, no education to speak of. There are some assets though. And she's made sure they are very much enhanced.

What she has in spades is the sheer will to do whatever is necessary to get the cash, to get in the photo-frame. And we should all celebrate her skill and determination in this. It's quite something to think she's transformed the briefest of brief acting roles into what could be long-term wealth. Of course, that's only if she sold her cars now, which is unlikely.

All this wealth comes from her men, who for obvious reasons, couldn't think straight at the time. The first main man was Mandla Mthembu. He's not in bad shape for a chap in his fifties. She can't be more than 23. He had loads of dosh that came from what jealous journalists call “BEE deals”. And no one had heard of him before he hooked up with the fabulous Khanyi. Immediately he shot onto the front pages; massive pictures, with not many words, occupied hectares of column space.

When they split, it was manna from heaven. And when he wanted to get back with her, he decided the way to this girl's heart was through a pair of matching yellow Lamborghinis. He knew his girl well, and it worked. One paper referred to them in that immortal phrase, “the most expensive sex aids ever”.

In the meantime, she manufactured what was easily one of the most unintentionally funny pieces of journalism ever. It was on the back of the Sunday Times Metro section, under the heading “My Joburg”. It started off with an easy opener about how she thought she was doing in the socialite stakes. “I'm the best socialite South Africa's ever seen,” she said. Without a hint of guile. More was to follow. “If I won the lottery I would find as many orphans as I could and fill their tummies until they burst.” And my own personal favourite, “If I could do anything to change Joburg, to make it better for its people, I would get them to move the kitchen vents at Melrose Arch”. Why? “Because the smell sometimes comes into our apartment.”

She was deadpan serious. The interview was hysterical. It was tear-streamingly funny. She was completely stupid, short-sighted. And she didn't care. That's the endearing part about her. She really doesn't care what people say, as long as they talk about her. And that's her genius. It's that she has found a way to translate stupidity into money.

But, of bloody course, there's a degree of cunning as well. Well, a huge degree. When she split from Mthembu, properly this time, she made friends with his ex-wife. He must have loved that. Nothing like having two gold-diggers on your tail. At the time, to bolster her own PR she did the obligatory photo shoot for Drum magazine, with her two-month-old baby. Again she broke the visual mould. Dressed in stilettos and a party frock, she stood looking at the camera, her right knee slightly cocked (to show her legs, of course), and her baby, precariously balanced on her out-stretched right arm.

Khanyi's now moved on. Her newest target/customer/PR initiative is Theuns Crous. Again a businessman with no public profile before meeting her, and again, in his fifties. The tabloids claim he's linked to the ANC, but he looked as bored as hell in his T-shirt at the ANC's swanky anniversary dinner in Kimberley this year. She was dressed to the nines of course. Perhaps they didn't get dressed in the same room.

Up close and personal, she's very friendly. She's got that professional-person-of-whom-pictures-are-taken attitude. She flounces and pouts and complains about her make-up and likes to wear sunglasses indoors. She's perfectly toned, a body that is trained, and she clearly has the time and the energy to look after what is her big selling point. There's a certain type of professional body, usually home only to models and lap-dancers, where you know it's being treated as a way to make money. She has one of those. She's up front about her surgery, and apparently prefers silicone to saline.

But what she understands better than most is it's all about the attention. So if you ask to have a pic taken with her, she'll nod yes, while continuing to chat steadily, put an arm around you, smile and move on quickly. She loves it. (The horribly bad photo accompanying this story is pretty good proof of it.)

Khanyi is also a non-discriminating gold-digger. Race doesn't matter. Neither does age it seems. There's something quite affirming about a new breed of gold-digger that doesn't really care about race. She's more interested in the money and the party than anything else. Of course, that's how it should be.

She's done well for herself, our own Khanyi Mbau. She took a tiny role in the series “Muvhango”, that of Doobsie, and became far more recognisable than any of the regular stars. She took over from the tragic Lindiwe Chibi, who was shot by her own boyfriend, just as the story cycle around Doobsie was peaking.

Khanyi always claims she's our Paris Hilton. She makes money by partying. She probably gets to charge an appearance fee. She may not have made a sex tape (yet), but she gets herself into the media through an interesting choice of partners and the odd outrageous comment.

It works for her. And plenty of people queue up to pay good money to watch the Khanyi show up.

As the old saying goes, there's one born every minute. But she's not one of them.

By Stephen Grootes

(Grootes is an EWN reporter)

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

  • Media

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