Nduduzo Tshuma, Assistant Editor
THE family of former Vice-President Mr Phelekezela Mphoko has been thrown in turmoil following claims by his son, Siqokoqela, that Mrs Laurinda Mphoko is not his biological mother.
The issue has led to frosty relations between Siqokoqela and the rest of his family whom he says have not been on speaking terms for a few years now.
So bad is the situation that Mr Mphoko has ordered Siqokoqela not to set foot in the family home should any family member die.
The family feud played out on social media on Monday when Siqokoqela took to Facebook and Twitter, appealing to the public to help him locate his biological mother.
His post was accompanied by a picture of his father in his youth with a young woman whom he wants to ascertain if she could be his biological mother.
“I am appealing to anyone who may know who this lady is and where she is. An auntie of mine sent me this pic. This could be my biological mother. So many questions are unanswered. Help me find her,” Siqokoqela captioned the picture on his Twitter and Facebook accounts.
After his posts, Siqokoqela’s siblings Sikhumbuzo and Siduduzile responded by rebuffing their brother’s claims.
“In response to the recent post made by Siqokoqela Mphoko on his Twitter account on the matter of locating his ‘biological mother,’ find enclosed a letter addressed to him, dated 29 September 2022, which was delivered to him by the lawyers,” posted Siduduzo in response to Siqokoqela’s post on Twitter.
She also made similar comments on Facebook. She attached a letter written to Siqokoqela by lawyers from Calderwood, Bryce Hendrie and Partners who say Laurinda insists on being his biological mother, “but due to reasons best known to yourself, you have estranged yourself and your family from her and the rest of the family”.
The lawyers said they had been instructed to warn Siqokoqela from claiming that he was ill-treated by Laurinda and that she was behind his legal woes where he is accused of raping a minor relative.
They said Laurinda was ready to go for a DNA test to confirm that she was indeed Siqokoqela’s biological mother further warning that should he continue with his claim, she will be forced to take legal action against him.
In response, Siqokoqela says to his sister: “Intimidation and threats have always been the order of the day. Let the one who alleges to be the owner of the child speak by allowing DNA tests to be conducted.”
Siduduzo then fired back: “It is clear in black and white; DNA tests have been allowed since 2022. You got this letter last year. Don’t backtrack . . . Siqokoqela Mphoko, you are the holder of your own birth certificate, your father’s name (Phelekezela Mphoko) and mother’s name (Laurinda Mphoko) date of birth (7 September 1978) and place of birth (Maputo, Mozambique) are all there.
“You also have your vaccination cards, and the Mozambican vaccine sign which is on your left forearm as it is also on Sikhumbuzo Mphoko (the firstborn) who was also born in Maputo, Mozambique in 1977.”
Responding to Siqokoqela’s post on Facebook, Sikhumbuzo described the woman in the picture as a family friend.
“This photo was taken in Zambia during the struggle times, in 1968. The lady in the photo was then known as Miss Julia Khumalo, who later married Mr Gibson Mayisa. In 1981 former VP Mphoko and Mrs Mphoko visited the couple at their home in Chipangali, Bulawayo.
“Mr Gibson Mayisa and former VP Mphoko are friends from the struggle. This couple has children who are far older than Sikhumbuzo, Siqokoqela, and Siduduzile Mphoko, for their marriage is older than that of former VP and Mrs Mphoko’s marriage,” said Sikhumbuzo who also posted similar posts to that of her sister, Siduduzo.
Later, Siduduzo said she had been blocked by Siqokoqela on social media over their exchange.
“Blocking me will not block the truth. You are disrespectful not only to Mamo and Papai, but also to the lady in the photograph and her family. Where does your line of disrespect end? Siqokoqela Mphoko, the truth is out, it’s in black and white,” she said.
Yesterday, Siqokoqela invited Chronicle to his Hillside home where he denied being served with papers by his mother’s lawyers.
Instead, he said he was willing to pay for DNA tests for both his mother and father at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) to bring finality to the issue around his biological mother.
Siqokoqela also appealed to anyone who may have details about his biological mother to come forward with the information saying the issue was affecting him mentally and spiritually.
“Let’s go tomorrow. Nust is there and I will pay for it, both of my parents, let us go for a DNA test and see that Sqo this is what you are, this is what you are not, and we move on with life.
“I only want the truth, that’s all I want, I can’t change the past or anything, all I want is the truth. That’s all I want,” he said.
“There are spiritual elements to the whole thing, it’s not something nice, the truth is always nice to be told because of the treatment that you get. People can deny certain things but it’s me, my wife and children who have been at the receiving end.”
Siqokoqela insisted that he did not receive any letter from Laurinda’s lawyers.
“To whom did they send? She (Siduduzile) must show you when they ever said let us go for a DNA test. That is the bone of contention. How does Siduduzile involve herself in this matter because I am talking to my father? If there is information, I am looking for shouldn’t that information be given to me?
“Why then should it be explained to Siduduzile? How does Siduduzile know who that lady is? Was she there? She was born three years after me according to the birth certificates, so where would she have gotten the information unless my father relayed that information to her?” charged Siqokoqela.
“But when I asked for that information through my father’s brother, why was it not given to me? Why was I threatened with a criminal case? What did I do?”
Siqokoqela said while the family was already embroiled in a tiff over a number of issues, things got to a head after Siduduzile’s wedding in 2019.
“What happened is that, I did not know my father’s side of the family and when my sister was getting married, my father’s brother called Pilate Sibanda came to stay with us because komdala (Douglasdale) was full. While he was here, I enquired about our history and that is when he revealed that he was not a Ndlovu but a Sibanda as they were born of the same mother but different fathers,” said Siqokoqela.
He said Mr Sibanda referred him to Mr Nelson Sponono Ndlovu from Dongamuzi, Lupane, whom he contacted and discovered to be Mr Mphoko’s brother from his father’s side.
He said Mr Ndlovu introduced him to another relative based in Harare, Mr Bekithemba Mboneni, who further connected him with an aunt called Moudy who told him about the family’s life in Zambia.
“As time went on, there was a rift between her and my parents and then I asked her about certain issues I had heard about and she said ‘Siqokoqela, there are many complicated issues around your life’ and then she sent me that picture (posted on Facebook) and said ‘your father sent me this photo a long time ago and I don’t remember when exactly he sent. It was a long time ago, but this lady could be your mother.’ She said just be careful with the road you are walking because your father doesn’t take these things lightly because there are certain things that made us not to talk,” said Siqokoqela.
He said he then asked for his aunt’s assistance to approach his father about the identity of his mother and she indicated that she had already asked Mr Ndlovu to do it.
“That is when problems started,” said Siqokoqela.
He said Mr Ndlovu never got back to him about his engagement with Mr Mphoko, but only got forwarded messages from their family lawyer, Mr Zibusiso Ncube, where his father was bashing him for “disowning” his family.
In the messages, Mr Mphoko says Siqokoqela dropped out of school and ran away to the United States of America where he committed a number of crimes until he returned to Zimbabwe accompanied by the police.
“If any member of our family dies, don’t set foot here. You are not welcome. Go to Maputo and look for (your) mysterious mother,” said Mr Mphoko via Mr Ncube, who offered to mediate over the matter without success. Siqokoqela said there had been a lot of talk over the years from relatives in Mozambique casting doubt on Laurinda.
“You also see from the way you are being treated. My mother can even insult my wife and not talk to her grandchildren. There are a lot of things, but people are afraid to say because they are scared,” said Siqokoqela.
“I have only loved my father and I have loved lo mama to a point that I have given them business deals and introduced them to businesspeople. My father is not a businessman, but a diplomat. However, there is this perception that he gave me things when he never gave me anything. I have worked for everything I have by the grace of God. The only thing that he gave me was an education and I decided to pursue a certain avenue like everyone does which is my right.”
He said he dropped out of an agricultural institution as he felt it was not his dream, but that of his father.
Efforts to get a comment from Mr Mphoko and Laurinda were fruitless.