In 2018, after his break-up with award-winning media personality Bonang Matheba, award-winning rapper AKA took to Twitter. He told his thousands of followers that he had found rocks tied in a plastic bag in his bedroom cupboard, implying that Matheba was using witchcraft. The rapper, whose real name is Kiernan Forbes, is known to have outbursts on social media. This is the same man who allegedly slapped his rap rival Cassper Nyovest (real name Refiloe Phoolo) in 2015.
Forbes has always had a reputation for being belligerent and has the big ego you’d expect from a rapper. Once upon a time, he would invariably leave music award shows with multiple accolades. As someone who used to be a big fan of his music, you’d have to pay me good money to listen to his more recent work.
Along with his industry-related drama with Phoolo, his personal life hasn’t been short of controversy. He allegedly cheated on the mother of his child, DJ Zinhle (whose real name is Ntombezinhle Jiyane) with Matheba. At some point, he briefly reunited with Jiyane. Then, in 2021, Forbes – who was 33 years old – became engaged to 22-year-old Anele Tembe.
Tembe died in Cape Town after falling from a hotel balcony. The details of Forbes’s whereabouts when the incident occurred are sketchy.
In a tell-all interview a month after Tembe’s death, Forbes claimed that they had argued on the day of her death. He went to the bathroom, but Tembe wasn’t there when he returned to the room. After her death, reports accused Forbes of being abusive, including pictures of him allegedly breaking down a door to get to Tembe.
Despite his chequered past with women, Forbes somehow has a new girlfriend. Last week, he and rapper Nadia Nakai posted a picture on Instagram of her sitting on Forbes’s lap and kissing him, confirming their romantic relationship. I have so many questions, but my first is: how the hell do you date someone whose previous partner died under such circumstances and who was allegedly abusive?
Nakai isn’t the only heterosexual woman making these choices. As much as we all desire the care and companionship that comes with dating, I am concerned about what straight women are willing to overlook in that pursuit.
In the Showmax documentary Devilsdorp, my jaw dropped when journalist Marizka Coetzer said that she fell in love with convicted murderer Le Roux Steyn, whom she had been interviewing for a book.
It’s not like she wasn’t aware of the crimes he had committed. She had covered the story. Yet, somewhere in between hearing the sordid details of his crimes, she fell in love with this man.
Even Oscar Pistorius reportedly had a new girlfriend when he was on trial for murdering his partner, Reeva Steenkamp.
It isn’t only well-known men with social capital who can date again despite the harm they have caused their previous partners. Average-looking men who aren’t winning any awards for their personality or intellect, and who have a history of violence, can also get partners without a hassle.
Although it may feel like there is a shortage of kind, smart, straight men, they do exist. (Disclosure: I’m speaking as a straight woman who has to believe this because how else could I justify dating men?) So I don’t understand why anyone would want to date a convicted murderer or someone who allegedly abused his previous partner.
To make sense of this disturbing behaviour, I turned to bell hooks’s book All About Love: New Visions. In it, hooks quotes therapist Harriet Lerner, who said that “most people want a partner who is ‘mature and intelligent, loyal and trustworthy, loving and attentive, sensitive and open, kind and nurturant, competent and responsible’”. No matter the intensity of this desire, Lerner concludes: “Few of us evaluate a prospective partner with the same objectivity and clarity that we might use to select a household appliance or car.”
hooks, who has written extensively on love, writes in All About Love: New Visions that women may be reluctant to scrutinise their romantic choices because it will “reveal that there is no one for us to love”. Because we live in a world that promotes romantic love, many people would rather have a partner with a bad reputation than have no partner, concludes hooks. That may explain why – although I am horrified by the thought of dating someone who allegedly abused their previous partner, let alone a convicted criminal – some people aren’t bothered.
But that explanation doesn’t feel adequate to me. Recently, someone who has been accused of abuse has been trying to make plans to “hang out” with me (which is code for sinful behaviour in which I don’t engage because I am saving myself for marriage).
Even though I am adamant that I am getting married next year (to whom and where are yet to be determined), I cannot imagine dismissing those allegations because I want to be permanently off Tinder.
Not only would I be worried about my safety if I were to, God forbid, date someone who has a history of abuse, but I would be putting the safety of the other women in my life in jeopardy.
Romantic relationships are fun, and incredibly important when you need someone to look after you when it’s that time of the month. But I think we all need to have more conversations with our loved ones about why we’re so willing to overlook such serious allegations just so that we can say we have a man. DM168
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.