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Zuma’s wife ousted over plot to poison him

SOUTH AFRICA – Following months of speculation about the whereabouts of one of President Jacob Zuma’s wives, Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma it appears she has been banned from his Nkandla compound following revelations of her suspected involvement in a plot to poison the president.

President Zuma and his second wife Nompumelelo Ntuli Photo: GETTY
President Zuma and his second wife Nompumelelo Ntuli Photo: GETTY

The Sunday Times has reported that in early August last year, during a trip to the US, doctors diagnosed an ailing Zuma as having been poisoned. However, not trusting US doctors, Zuma went to Russia later that month for treatment. Russian doctors reportedly confirmed the diagnosis.

The newspaper reported that although a direct link between Ntuli-Zuma and the poison plot could not be established, it is understood that the president believes she was involved due to her unhappiness at having been sidelined as a wife following reports of her extramarital affair a few years ago.

Zuma reportedly believes that only someone within his immediate family circle could be responsible for trying to poison him – someone with access to his food.

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A senior intelligence source has however confirmed the poisoning incident and said Zuma discovered it while in Washington in August. At the time he had been very ill. Later that month he made a short trip to Russia where doctors confirmed the poisoning diagnosis.

Executive functions

Ntuli-Zuma has meanwhile since been moved to a house in Durban North with her three children and has reportedly been removed from the president’s travel roster. She was also absent from Zuma’s recent state of the nation address and was also not at the annual Christmas party hosted by the president in December.

Speculation has been rife these past few months as to the status of Ntuli-Zuma. Last month News24 reported that she had been ousted from the president’s spousal office.

According to the presidency’s website, the spousal office “supports the spouses of the president and deputy president in their partnership role in presidential, ceremonial, state and executive functions and in all other duties and responsibilities related to their positions as spouses”.

At the time, Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said no comment was available.

Earlier, the Sunday Sun published an article in which it claimed that Ntuli-Zuma, commonly known as MaNtuli, had been excluded from the spousal office following tension in her marriage.

It published comments about the apparent move from unnamed sources which it said were “insiders” to the matter.

However, no official confirmation was obtained.

Malicious reports

Ntuli-Zuma made headlines early last year following a court case involving a Tanzanian man accused of threatening her with a claim that Zuma was not the father of one of her children.

In late April 2014, the Durban Regional Court fined Steven John Masunga R10 000 or three months in prison for having tried to force Ntuli-Zuma to arrange a business meeting for him with her husband by sending her SMSes falsely claiming to be the father of her child, and falsely accused her of trying to kill her bodyguard.

In November 2010, Ntuli-Zuma also made headlines after settling a Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration labour dispute involving a domestic worker who had claimed she had been unfairly dismissed.

Previously, in June 2010, Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma issued a statement in which he distanced the Zuma family from unconfirmed allegations – published by the Ilanga newspaper at that time – that Ntuli-Zuma had had an affair with a bodyguard.

“The president’s family is united in distancing itself from these malicious reports about the first lady Mama [Nompumelelo] MaNtuli,” he said at the time.

Drum magazine recently published an article saying she had become a devout Christian and would no longer participate in certain family traditional ceremonies.

Zuma is also married to Sizakele Khumalo, Bongiwe Ngema and Thobeka Mabhija.

He was previously married to current African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, whom he divorced in 1998, and Kate Mantsho, who committed suicide in 2000. News24