The Year in Review, 2023: Moments that shook Mzansi - from Thabo Bester to dramatic break-ups

Thuli Phongolo. Picture: Instagram

Thuli Phongolo. Picture: Instagram

Published Dec 26, 2023


The year 2023 has been busy in these Mzansi entertainment streets. All year it’s been one drama after another, but hey, we’re not complaining.

We even entered the year on a dramatic note, thanks to actress and fashion designer Enhle Mbali Mlotshowa, businessman Justice Huni and his wife Valentine Bango.

As the year comes to a close, it’s finally time for us to put our façades away, and bond with our “real day ones,” and of course, reflect on the year that was.

Justice Huni's public statement regarding the allegations levelled by his wife against actress Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa. Picture: Instagram

2023 was the year we lost the multi-talented rapper, producer, businessman, father and superstar Kiernan “AKA” Forbes.

Wild, but true, the rapper was shot at close range, along with his friend Tebello Motsoane. Their killers have not been caught.

AKA’s death marked a moment in the culture books; it shook the industry.

Supa Mega is not the only person who we’ve had to sadly mourn.

The industry was rocked up by yet another death - Costantinos Tsobanoglou, better known by his stage name Costa Titch.

Another late evening death, Costa Titch collapsed on stage while performing at Ultra South Africa. He later died.

With a very promising career ahead of him, his single ‘Big Flexa’ was taking him to new heights, and he had just signed a deal with Akon that was going to make him an international name.

Akon and Costa Titch. Picture: Instagram

During all the mourning and in trying to move on, the country was rocked by the biggest prison escape drama ever - Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumane.

We seriously can’t wait for the Showmax or Netflix Original documentary that will come out on the mind-blowing case.

The true crime drama had everybody glued to the news, and social media for updates around the saga - which even saw some celebrity names getting thrown in the mix.

Actress Simphiwe Ngema’s admission to visiting Bester in jail in the search for “answers” had everybody shaken - she may have deleted her statement, but people are quick with screenshots.

— The Instigator (@Am_Blujay) May 3, 2023

In typical South African justice system style, the Thabo Bester trial is yet to start, meaning Dr Magudumane and her man Bester will still be serving looks in court.

One has to wonder if her edges will still be intact in 2024, if she will finally leave Nike behind, or which other luxury designer Bester will be wearing. Gucci maybe?

While the documentary on Thabo Bester’s true crime story has not come out, we were subjected to plenty of local reality TV shows that no one asked for.

TV producers jumped on the ‘Real Housewives’ bandwagon for sure this year - with new cities like Wynlande and Gqebhera (the name change was a boost, because everyone wants to cash in on GQ).

Speaking of cashing in; the ‘Big Brother’ craze saw viewers endure a season of ‘Big Brother Titans’, a blend of Nigeria and South Africa.

Even ‘Big Brother Mzansi’ S3 second runner-up Themba Broly scored his own reality show where he showed his life and the dynamics of his then-new relationship with the season winner Mpho Wa Badimo and his baby Mama Nqobile.

The relationship between Mpho and Themba never lasted, but at least they were blessed with a child.

On the topic of shows no one asked for; the first African ‘Love and Hip Hop South Africa’ aired and even won an award. Yet, some people don’t even know what happened in the first season.

The cast of "Love and Hip Hop SA". Picture: Instagram

We even got ‘The Mommy Club’ which at times was a wannabe, ‘Real Housewives’. Producers in season, two please figure out which lane you are in.

‘The Mommy Club’. Picture: Supplied

In 2023, we saw Unathi Nkayi sue her former employer Kaya FM for R1.6-million. The matter is still dragging on, at some point, she was asking for all those screenshots of Sizwe Dhlomo’s tweets.

She even told her story to podcaster and her friend Gareth Cliff on his podcast but 2023 is almost over and has she even gotten justice? A luta continua!

Zakes Bantwini, we get it, you won a Grammy, no more celebrations in 2024, please? That’s also to you Minister Zizi Kodwa, the Arts and Culture budget can be used for other things, let’s sort out that Copyright Amendment Bill.

On the topic of actors, this year became the year we finally said goodbye to ‘Idols SA’, no woooh shems here, ‘Gomora’ and ‘7de Laan’ - that actually hurts.

While Dr Magudumane and her man Bester kept strong throughout, being on the run, getting arrested and court appearances, some relationships sadly did not make it.

‘Lion King’ producer Lebo M announced he’s getting divorced again. Yes, we know nothing surprising there, but the mudslinging drama that followed.

The music composer, real name Lebohang Morake, did not hold back when it came to telling his side of why he was divorcing his wife of 18 months Pretty Samuels-Morake.

Lebo M and his wife Pretty Samuels-Morake in happier times. Picture: Instagram/@thereallebo_m

Initially, Morake was tight-lipped about why he was getting another divorce but he ended up opening up, revealing that his estranged wife had his electronic signature and was not willing to sign an affidavit. There were even muti claims and allegations of vehicles not being returned.

Another couple who got divorced then later got back together was retired comedian Toll Ass Mo and wife Mome Mahlangu.

It’s always advisable not to be in the business of two people but we constantly find ourselves dragged into their drama.

Real name, Mongezi Mahlangu, he appeared on DJ Fresh's ‘What A Week’ podcast and dropped the bombshell he is in the process of a divorce after 11 years of marriage. Months later, the two were seen all boo’ed up on social media, but we shall drink our sparkling water from Woolies.

While we were trying to mind our business, we got entangled in the business of alleged on-and-off couple DJ Maphorisa and actress and DJ Thuli Phongolo.

An alleged assault occurred between the couple that saw Phongolo openned and dropped a case against the DJ. He was arrested, and they resolved the matter privately.

DJ Maphorisa and Thuli P’s joint statement where they threatened legal action against those who’d been spreading false and defamatory rumours and basically told the public to move on.

They released a joint statement where they threatened legal action against those who’d been spreading false and defamatory rumours and basically told the public to move on.

Despite her denying the claims and putting up a façade that all is well, reality TV star Faith Nketsi confirmed eventually that her marriage was ending in divorce after a year.

Multi-award-winning musician Makhadzi broke up with record label, Open Mic Productions when she opted to not renew her contract with them.

Of course, at the beginning, the label acted tough about the situation but eventually made peace with things.

Multi-award-winning musician Makhadzi broke up with record label, Open Mic Productions when she opted to not renew her contract with her.

Even, Prince Kaybee left Universal Music. He is currently enjoying the freedom of being independent, selling wines, owning trucks and trending online.

Media personalities Boity Thulo and Bujy Bikwa finally sorted out their debacle that left Thulo bruised.

The long-running drama finally ended when the rapper dropped the charges and word is she might open up about it whenever her reality TV show comes back to screens.

Is there a year when actor SK Khoza doesn't trend? Even when he is overseas, he is topping Mzansi trends.

The multi-talented entertainer revealed the circumstances of a vicious attack he said he had endured behind closed doors between him and his fiancée, Choice Kate Mathebula.

Actor SK Khoza trending on social media after he was attacked by his fiance Kate Mathebula in England. Photos from his social media

Another person who just couldn't stay away from controversy was Cyan Boujee. At this point, if you don’t know the 22-year-old, please crawl out of that rock.

She’s trended for sex tape scandals, allegedly stealing an iPhone 13 and her relationship drama.

It’s no surprise that she is on the list of the most searched people of the year on Google.

Awards shows instead of celebrating whatever they stand for, also got entangled in messy drama.

Congratulations to Natasha Joubert for finally getting the Miss South Africa crown but no one seemed to care because of all the alleged behind-the-scenes drama at Miss SA.

Congratulations to Natasha Joubert for finally getting the Miss South Africa crown but no one seemed to care because of all the alleged behind-the-scenes drama at Miss SA.

When Zozibini Tunzi opted not to show up at the pageant finale, eyebrows were raised. Ahead of the finale, trouble was already brewing on ‘Crown Chasers’ (another reality show no one asked for) which Tunzi hosted.

The beauty queen was allegedly expected to pay for her wardrobe bill, sparking quite the drama, so much that she didn't attend the pageant, leaving many wondering why. Oh, the whispers.

The Miss South Africa pageant may have been all drama for Tunzi but it was Le’Bonza, aka Queen B’s shining moment. Bonang Matheba hosted the pageant for a third time and ensured she had a solid PR campaign that would remind haters exactly who she is.

Bonang Matheba. Picture: Glamour

Her comeback moment featured on magazine covers, top fashion; she even resurrected her YouTube channel and partnered again with Steve Madden. You better work, honey!

The South African Music Awards need to retire now, and go back to the drawing board or something because the L, which organisers took this year, is a disgrace.

Drama for the awards began even before the nominations were announced, but hey following last year’s complaints, one assumed the corrections were just taking too long but the kettle was brewing.

When the nominations were finally announced, organisers had people take the train to Soweto - Prasa was a sponsor - for a badly organised announcement.

Only for things to take another dramatic turn when the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) of KwaZulu-Natal withdrew its funding.

KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Siboniso Duma addressed the media about the Samas. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/ Independent Media

This meant the awards would no longer be taking place in Durban. Organisers scrambled back to the drawing board and found another location, SunBet Arena in Pretoria.

Now, SunBet can be a great place to host big awards, but the disorganised shambles once again left the organisers with an L but hey, congratulations to the winners.

Another awards show that was plagued by drama was the second Amapiano Awards which failed to happen after all the attempts.

Even concerts failed to happen because sometimes people just bite off more than they can chew, but nothing wrong with being ambitious, in my opinion.

Nigerian superstar Burna Boy was meant to return to South Ahh and all his fans, who didn't get enough of him at the badly organised DStv Delicious Festival in 2022 were excited, a bigger venue had even been announced.

Things were looking up but when we attended a shaky listening session in his name at The Four Seasons, red flags immediately went up.

With one banner rolled up by the entryway, detailing the concert and an interesting speech from promoter Gregory Wings, a mess could be seen from a mile away.

With one banner rolled up by the entryway detailing the concert and an interesting speech from promoter Gregory Wings, a mess could be seen from a mile away.

It came as no surprise when it was announced that the concert had been cancelled and allegations of money swindling started making the rounds. This is not a Nhlanhla Lux narration, but an actual real-life drama.

At least Davido made it to the country, even though he subjected us to his diva antics. Hopefully, when he and Musa Keys win the Grammy next year, he will give a young concert, no press runs, respectfully.

What a year, right and this is just a fast recap but drama was certainly the order of the year in the industry and we expect next year to be even juicier. This is Mzansi after all.

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