Andile Gumbi's mother on her grandson’s tragic shooting: 'I never thought I would see him in the hospital like this'
Andile Gumbi. (Getty Images)
Cape Town - It has been three months since Isibaya and Lion King actor Andile Gumbi was laid to rest, yet drama between his family and his baby mama looms behind closed doors.
Following his burial at St Augustine Anglican Church in Umlazi, tabloids reported that Andile’s alleged wife Hlengiwe Ngcobo was barred by his mother Phindile Gumbi from attending the funeral.
Shortly after, it was reported that Andile’s 4-year-old son had been shot while playing with a gun belonging to Hlengiwe’s new boyfriend.
Speaking to DRUM, Andile’s mother, Phindile shared that it has been difficult for her to accept that her only child died prematurely and that her grandson was fighting for his life after the shooting.
On the Friday in question, Andile's mom received a call in the early hours of the morning from Hlengiwe informing her that her grandchild had been shot in her home in Fourways.
"She phoned. She didn’t greet or say anything. She just asked me if I had put him on my medical aid and I said no. She dropped the phone and when I called her back, she didn't pick up," says Phindile.
"Then she called again after an hour, crying. Someone else was given the phone because she couldn’t talk. They told me he had been shot by mistake while holding a bag or playing with a bag that had a gun in it. When he dropped the bag, the gun went off and shot him," she adds.
In 2018, Phindile says she was asked by Andile and Hlengiwe to take care of their toddler while they try and work on their careers.
"I stayed with him for two years. He was happy with me. This year they were planning to take the child," she says.
"This December, Hlengiwe came to fetch the child, I couldn’t stop her, it's her child. But when I asked her if she was leaving for good, she ignored me," says Phindile.
"A day after she arrived in Joburg, I heard the news that he had been shot," she adds.
Andile's mom was devastated when she saw her grandchild lying in a public hospital.
"I stayed with him for two years and he has never been harmed. He is a child, when he plays he would sometimes fall or scratch himself. But I never thought I would see him in the hospital like this," she says.
Captain Mavela Masondo from Douglasdale police stations says a case of "failure to safeguard a firearm and negligent handling of a firearm" has been opened against the owner of the firearm.
"It is alleged that on Sunday 2019-12-15 at approximately 22:50, a 35-year-old man was with the boy and his mother when he left his firearm in a bag and placed it on the TV cabinet and went outside to his vehicle," captain Masondo wrote in a statement.
"He heard a gunshot going off inside the house. It is then that they realised that the boy allegedly shot himself in the lower body when he was handling the firearm that he took out of the bag. The boy was taken to the hospital where he is recovering. A case was opened and docket taken to Senior Public Prosecutor for a decision and no arrests have been made so far."
Andile had promised his mom a lot before his death.
He even shared with his close friends that he would one day buy his mom a big house in the suburbs, a fancy 4x4 car and she would never have to do a day's work again. "But all those dreams are now memories," Phindile says.
Andile’s best friend Thabo Gwadiso also flew to Israel when he heard the news that Andile had collapsed on set.
The 35-year-old had been working on the production of Daniel the Musical when Hlengiwe was phoned by the production company after being hospitalised.
"He took his last breath in my arms," Hlengiwe told the Moja Love show After Tears.
But Andile’s mom is quick to correct that he and Hlengiwe were never married, as initially reported.
"I don’t know where people got the news that Andile was married," she tells DRUM.
"He went to her family and made a promise to marry her," she says.
"In our culture, it is not marriage when you take something to the family to prove your commitment to marry their daughter in the future. That is what Andile did. He paid something to show his loyalty and commitment, but they were never married," she adds.
Phindile also denies that Hlengiwe was threatened and told not to attend the funeral.
"I know Andile loved her at some point and I would never ban her from attending his funeral. And I won’t lie, I don’t know if Hlengiwe and Andile were still in a relationship when he died. She just didn't sit on the mattress because she was not a wife. All I know is that he came to me on the day he was traveling to Israel and asked me for transport money to the airport and I gave it to him and we said our goodbyes," says Phindile. Sounding numb and exhausted on the phone, Hlengiwe tells Drum that Andile’s friends and family never approved of their relationship.
"I don’t owe them an explanation. We told the police what happened," she says calmly. "Honestly, I feel like that family and his friends never liked me from the beginning. Mistakes happen. Why would I hurt my own seed," she says breaking out in tears before hanging up the phone.
Andile's friends and family are fuming after hearing that no arrests were made. Andile's mom says she has had sleepless nights after the incident. "I am even consulting with a social worker to assist me," she says.
"I’m scared I might lose the only memory left of my son," she says.
Phindile made a recent visit to see her grandchild who is slowly making progress. "He is getting there. He was happy to see me and some people that he knew," she says.
"My one wish is just for the hospital to transfer him to KZN where I will be able to see him every day if Hlengiwe is busy. It cost me R2 000 to travel to Joburg," Phindile adds.
A close friend to the Gumbi family says Hlengiwe and Andile’s relationship was over a long time ago, but he was in denial.
"He wanted to make it work. But they were not married. He didn’t even pay lobola. Wena, did you see wedding pictures? No. Let’s leave the marriage out," he says.
"Did she tell the police the gun belongs to her boyfriend? The girl is just too much. A lot is happening and this lady needs to answer," adds the friend.
Andile’s best friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, says: "First of all, how do you not know if your own child has medical cover. She needs to fix her life and leave the child with the Andile’s mom until she is back on track. Not for anyone but her child," he adds.