The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
SONGBIRD Berita Khumalo has revealed that she had to return and lay low for six months at home in Zimbabwe during the height of her messy separation from infamous South African music industry impresario Nota Baloyi, as he tormented her and close associates.
Aside from a few broadsides thrown on social media, Berita has so far remained mum about the goings-on in a marriage that has over the last few months degenerated into a public spectacle, as Nota attacks not only her, but other figures in the music industry.
The man who calls himself The Authority has in the last few weeks been in the spotlight, fingering several of slain rapper AKA’s friends as the masterminds behind his shooting.
Rapper K.O, whose brother was AKA’s bodyguard, recently applied for a gag order against the social media motor mouth while former Skwatta Kamp member and mogul Slikour was recently granted a protection order by a South African court on a separate issue.
However, it seems as if Berita did not have the chance to seek respite from the courts, as she fled South Africa when Nota started attacking her after her decision to leave their troubled marriage.
In an interview with South Africa’s Kaya 959, Berita revealed that an incident with South African police was the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to her marriage.
“For me, the final day, I still remember on 20 December 2021, I had a sold-out show at Joburg Theatre, Lesedi FM, and I was driving home with my then-husband and the police stopped us. They were just doing their routine check and asking for a driver’s licence. And it went from being that to being a full blown-out argument where he was shouting at the police, screaming at the police. It was almost midnight and I had to get out of the car and restrain this man from the police.
“And that is when I knew that this is not my life. And it is never gonna be my life, it doesn’t matter what its gonna take because when we were first got married, I only got to see the signs of what was going on later on. I realised that I’m in too deep and on that day, the 20th of December 2021 was the day all the love ended and I was like, ‘I’m leaving’” she said.
According to Berita, while her relationship to Nota had been rocky even before that point, it was only after she consulted a therapist that she realised that she was in an abusive union. On the day she decided to leave, Berita said she had pretended to be on her way to the studio so as to avoid backlash from her husband.
“It’s been a difficult year to be displaced and also being abused publicly because that’s what it really is. I have vivid memories of my memories. I remember that was the first time I found out because I called a therapist that day when I was leaving. That’s when I found out that I was in a narcissistic abusive relationship because I spent an hour-and-a-half telling what was going on in the relationship and the entire time, I’m think oh this is rage, this is someone that’s angry, this is someone that’s going through stuff. And the day that I learnt that I was in an abusive relationship, I did not stay one minute. I quickly made plans on that very day.
“I literally remember the day that I left. I had gone and bought continental pillows from Mr Price for the house and I remember going to the house and packing my stuff and putting it inside the continental pillow plastic bag . . . I literally told him I’m coming back because I bought the continental pillow with the rug and I’m taking the rug back . . . I had booked myself into a hotel room and I left as if I was taking back the continental pillows and checked myself into the hotel. I still came back and said ‘hey, I’m going to go to the studio later’ and he was like ‘okay’ and I never came back. That’s how I left,” she said.
According to Berita, Nota did not take her departure kindly, subjecting her to the kind of abuse that had even her parents fearing for her life. Given Nota’s influence in South Africa, her father encouraged her to not only leave that country, but quit the music business altogether.
“I left in January and after that he was harassing me privately, harassing my family and harassing everyone around me. I had to leave the country completely, I had to go back home to Zimbabwe to my grandmother for six months. My parents were scared because they are far.
“He knew exactly what he was doing because home is a bit far away and he knows that I’m alone in Joburg. So, when I went home my father said actually don’t go back (to SA). He said forget even about the music, go into farming or whatever. He was supportive of me leaving an abusive marriage,” she said.
While some have accused Berita of ignoring “red flags” in the early stages of romance with Nota, she said it was only later on in marriage that he revealed his true colours.
“In the beginning I didn’t tell him because I was in the beginning, I was in shock myself. The first time I detailed to my father what was going on, I explained to him using a Ndebele word, ‘ulaka’. I said dad I’m seeing rage that I have never seen in my life and my father said you’re the most peaceful person that I know, if someone cannot live with you, then they don’t deserve you.
“I think the people that had been in his life longer knew it . . . I see it now with his ex-business partners because when we were still married, I realised that no one wants to be around this person. I thought
‘Am I the problem?’ and I think the challenge for me is I really was naïve when I got into the relationship and when you’re an artiste its either you’re in the studio or running around doing gigs. I only realised later that I didn’t get time to really know this person and at some point, it looked like we share the same type of values but I didn’t know that there was this rage and anger that’s masked. Now it’d turned him into a raging lion. It had turned into something that I don’t know,” she said.
The songbird said she felt that Nota was taking advantage of the lax enforcement of laws in South Africa to continue abusing her and other people.
“For me, there was Berita before this and there will be Berita after. I have been in the music industry for 10 years . . . In my family, I am the first born and I have always been a friend, a sister and I have always been a lover. He’s not going to take that away from me.
“The thing that he has gone and said, he has tried to make it seem like he made me and he never did and he never will. He’s not supposed to be walking the streets. He’s abusive to authority, he’s abusive online, he’s erred so much, if it was another country he would be locked up.”