Nomagugu Ngobese, who is credited with reviving virginity testing and who founded the Nomkhubulwane Culture and Youth Development Organisation‚ told TimesLIVE on Tuesday that it was an “insult” that Nonkanyiso Conco claimed she was a director of the organisation.
Conco‚ who gave birth to a boy on April 12 – the same day that former president Jacob Zuma turned 76 – is set to become Msholozi’s 7th bride.
“She left Nomkhubulwane about three or four years ago. Nomkhubulwane has rules and one of them is that you must introduce your boyfriend‚ and if your boyfriend is paying lobola for you‚ we accompany you when you get married and you still get tested before you get married.
“We don’t test people who are already people’s wives. That’s an insult to our culture. Our girls get tested throughout until they get married. That is at the core of virginity testing‚” said Ngobese.
Virginity testing — ukuhlolwa kwezintombi — is an ancient Zulu tradition that is regarded as an important rite of passage to womanhood. This practice was largely neglected by previous Zulu kings until it was revived by King Zwelithini in 1984.
Every spring thousands of young girls descend on the king’s Enyokeni royal palace in Nongoma to declare their virginity before him and he has used every occasion to teach them about the importance of remaining “pure” before marriage.
Conco‚ who was under Ngobese’s mentorship‚ has been one of the girls who made the trek from Pietermaritzburg to Nongoma every year to declare their purity before Zwelithini.
But Ngobese said Conco left Nomkhubulwane three or for years ago and she had heard that Conco was recruited by a political party during the 2014 general elections to woo young girls for votes.
Ngobese said she was surprised when she was called by newspapers on Friday inquiring about her directorship of Nomkhubulwane after news broke that Conco was Zuma’s bride-to-be.
“What irritates me is that she claims to be a director of my organisation while she left a long time ago to live her own life. What director was she? Because she was just a participant and she has no direction herself‚” said Ngobese.
“I was surprised when I was contacted by newspapers asking me about her and I said it’s been a long time since I saw her. I heard from other young girls that they had a social media group where they communicated and she talked about getting married.”
Ngobese described Conco’s behaviour of getting pregnant before marriage as “shameful”.
“She is exploiting other girls to what she is doing. Girls are very ashamed of what she has done. How can a wife be tested‚ and has a wife ever been accompanied by young girls when getting married?” fumed Ngobese.
Conco‚ 24‚ a former massage-parlour owner‚ has been visiting the Nkandla compound since she was 19‚ according to her unverified Twitter account.
She is reportedly ready to settle with the former president‚ who is 52 years her senior.