The highly anticipated tell-all interview Mohale: On The Record, where Mohale Motaung gives his side of his relationship and marriage with controversial but beloved entertainer Somizi Mhlongo, could’ve easily been an ugly, victim-shaming, homophobic, mess. Rather it was a moment where someone who alleges extreme physical abuse from a romantic partner was given an opportunity to be heard, free of judgement, and where they could talk about how they saw themselves as having ended up in this relationship.
The fierceness with which the star that was Somhale, the couple nickname given to Somizi and Mohale, shone was as bright as it rapidly flamed out.
They first met in 2017 and were an engaged celebrity couple by 2018. In 2019 they tied the knot in the first of two weddings. The first was a traditional ceremony and the second a star-studded Joburg-glam gay fantasia in 2020. All this was documented on Living The Dream With Somizi (LTDWS) and Somizi & Mohale: The Union.
Despite the whirlwind high-romance relationship, and beautiful weddings, rumours swirled around the true state and strength of their relationship from the moment they went public. Much of the chatter often returned to claims that Mohale was a gold-digger, or whether the 22-year age difference between them was Somizi taking advantage of Mohale.
Finally in July 2021, with the bombshell leak of recordings between Mohale and an executive producer for LTDWS discussing all the problems that had been plaguing the union, from infidelity, sexual incompatibility, to allegations of emotional and physical abuse, there was no longer denying that the dream had become a nightmare.
In the wake of the allegations of abuse in the leaked recording, which follow a 2008 conviction for sexual assault, Somizi took leaves from his most high-profile gigs as a judge for Idols SA and on Metro FM.
The most recent fifth season of LTDWS largely dealt with the end of the fairytale and the allegations in that leaked audio. Despite 10 episodes of LTDWS where everyone weighed in, from Somizi, his daughter and her mother, and his friends, one voice was absent: Mohale.
Announcing the special Mohale said, “I initially had no intentions to publicly speak of the events that have occurred, due to an agreement I had with the other parties involved.” But when the agreement was dishonoured, “it became paramount that I tell my truth as I know it,” which is what he did.
Here is just a taste of what we learnt from Mohale’s tell all.
1. Mohale is just a regular family guy
The special reintroduces viewers to Mohale, not as one half of Somhale, but as the long-prayed for second born of three children to an everyday family. Born to Sechaba and Elsabe Motaung, after the loss of two babies between Mohale and his eldest sister, Mohale, meaning “warrior, hero, brave,” was the name bestowed on him to mark him as a survivor and a fighter from birth.
2. “It wasn’t a red flag then… I overlooked everything”
One of the most painful and touching sequences in the interview is when Mohale details many of the “red flags” he “overlooked” as the relationship progressed. There were many, from the oddness of their first “date;” being talked into making their relationship public though Mohale didn’t want to; and even accepting the marriage proposal despite his feeling that Somizi had already not honoured the conversation they’d had about marriage prior to the official engagement.
According to Mohale, the very same time Somizi was planning the proposal he was also planning on beginning a sexual relationship with a third party and ultimately tried to initiate a threesome on that trip. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with non-monogamous relationships. It can even be healthy. But even so, there are ways these conversations need to be broached where all parties feel safe. As Mohale explains the course of events, Somizi did not do that.
3. Mohale was “particularly shocked” by Vusi Nova
One of Somizi’s friends, Vusi Nova, was someone whose opinion of Mohale seemed to make a 180-degree switch for the viewers of LTDWS. In the most recent season, Vusi says he only “tolerated” Mohale because Somizi loved Mohale adding that he, Vusi, didn’t like Mohale.
When asked about this, in an extended sequence on Vusi and the ups and downs of his “friendship” with Somizi, Mohale shoots back that “I didn’t know much about him (Vusi) and I wasn’t sure how much he knew of me”. Mohale also says that besides discussions with Vusi playing peacemaker whenever there was trouble in his relationship with Somizi “there was never any discussion with Vusi”, so he was “particularly shocked” and not sure how Vusi concluded he didn’t like him.
4. “Somizi had everything figured out in his life”
In addition to owning up to his own wrongs, like infidelity three months into the relationship, and accepting that his career in the entertainment industry is thanks to his proximity to Somizi, the moment it became clear that Mohale was pretty astute on this relationship he’s still in the process of emerging from was when he likened Somizi as searching for a missing puzzle piece to complete his life.
“The only missing puzzle (piece) in his life was marriage. He wanted to do whatever that it took to make sure that the puzzle is complete”, before saying of himself as that missing piece, “not being a perfect puzzle piece was a problem”.
But the difference between the Mohale being interviewed in this special and the Mohale we first met in those old seasons of LTDWS and the wedding special is that he’s not one to simply accept whenever Somizi would cross that “thin line” between “firm” and “controlling.”
Whether it’s him producing a lawyer's letter that seems to rubbish Somizi’s claims that Mohale is demanding 50% of Somizi’s assets, or being unyielding in denying Somizi’s claims he got Mohale work even while accepting it’s the relationship that opened up opportunities for him, this is a different man.
Like all of us he still has much growth to go through, but Mohale is a man who is proud of who he is. And despite what feels like a whole season of a reality show designed to shame and gaslight him into doubting himself and what he experienced, he has persevered and is coming through what he is right to call “a very dark time”, living up to the name his family gave him.
- Mohale: On the Record is streaming on Showmax