Top brass at glam event, but where’s Mom?

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By Nathi Olifant

Durban - South Africa’s political elite descended on Franschhoek in the Western Cape on Saturday for Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s wedding to businesswoman Philisiwe Buthelezi.

President Jacob Zuma headed the list of top brass at the Allee Bleue wine estate, which included Speaker of Parliament Max Sisulu, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

With the bride having lived in France – she studied at the Sorbonne and was honoured by French president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2011 – the wedding was a tribute to Parisian elegance, with chandeliers and floral lampshades.

But At lunchtime on Saturday, Nurse Gumbi, 75, was harvesting pumpkin leaves at her Hammarsdale home outside Durban. Some 2 000km away her son, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, was getting married to top businesswoman Philisiwe Buthelezi.

Gumbi told the Sunday Tribune on Saturday that Mthethwa’s failure to invite her to his wedding had left her humiliated and devastated.

“I’m his mother and it’s painful not to be with him on his special day,” she said.

Gumbi maintains there are no problems in the family, but she feels her son has changed.

“He’s no longer the Nathi I know, the Nathi I gave birth to… Nathi is educated today because I made sure of that,” she said.

Gumbi shot down suggestions that she had been invited and turned down the invitation.

She also said Mthethwa had confided in her last September that he was looking for someone to marry.

“That was the end of it. I only heard from other people that he had already paid lobola and had done all other pre-matrimonial necessities. I was shocked to say the least.

“I asked, ‘Why didn’t you tell me, Nathi, that you are getting married and that you have paid lobola.’ I did not even get a doek from makoti (bride),” she said.

She said Mthethwa didn’t tell his paternal uncle about the wedding. “Maybe he got other Mthethwa (members) to do all these things for him. One day he will remember me when life has dealt him a blow, out in the cold and when he’s down,” she warned.

Gumbi said she last saw her son on New Year’s Eve when he arrived with his then-fiancée Buthelezi.

“Nathi promised to come again and I have been expecting an invite since he told me the wedding date,” she said.

Gumbi said none of her children had been invited. She said there were rumours one of her daughters had been at the wedding.

“People ask me if he is really my son and I tell them he is my first-born. That’s embarrassing at times. Nathi was born in a warm home and I really do not know what had gotten into him. All I wanted was to forge good relations with my daughter-in-law and my other in-laws,” she said.

“People must be asking where his mother is. Is he casting me out as a parent? Last week I got a huge shock when I saw him with his bride and the bride’s mother in the newspaper.”

Mthethwa’s spokesman, Zweli Mnisi, said: “Many members of the Mthethwa family are present at the wedding, but… this is a private matter (and) as such we request privacy and respect to be accorded to the family.” - Sunday Tribune

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