Organisers of a plush birthday party for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at Umhlanga’s upmarket Coastlands Hotel were left red-faced after the guest of honour failed to pitch up for her own gig.
Kevin Joseph, one of the organisers of the 200-guest party last night, told City Press he had decided to push ahead with the 77th birthday party for the ex-wife of President Nelson Mandela despite receiving an email from her earlier in the day cancelling her appearance.
In an email to Joseph, Zindzi Mandela said there had been “an urgent development within the family that needs to be attended do’’.
“It is under these circumstances that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and her family feel that the timing for her 77th birthday party is unsuitable. Therefore the celebration has been postponed to a date to be announced in the near future,’’ the email read.
Joseph said: “We decided to go ahead with the function as the venue had been booked, food had been prepared and people had been invited.”
The event was attended mainly by businesspeople from Durban at a cost of R10 000 a sponsored table for the 25 to 30 table venue.
Joseph defended the decision to go ahead with the party, saying that the 77 pensioners and other guests the organisers – who he refused to name – had invited still enjoyed the party.
Joseph described the losses as being in “low figures”.
“We received an email from Mama’s office at 3.30pm yesterday saying she couldn’t make it. We decided to go ahead with the party. That’s exactly what happened. There weren’t big losses as we had sponsors who paid Coastland directly. The guests were comfortable with the explanation and the party went on. Three of the pensioners had their birthday the same day so they cut the cake,’’ Joseph said.
Joseph said the event was “sponsored’’ but declined to divulge its costs.
One attendee, who asked not to be named, said: “People were made (to look) like fools. The guests were not happy about what happened.’’
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