Nica Richards
Deputy online news editor
4 minute read
22 May 2021
11:37 pm

‘I regret many things’ – AKA opens up about Nelli’s previous suicide attempts 

Nica Richards

Forbes lashed out at media publications and police investigations, saying the inquest felt 'orchestrated', and that there were 'different forces at play.' 

Kiernan Forbes also known as AKA and his late fiancee, Nelli Tembe. Picture: Instagram

Many deep-seeded issues boiling down to Kiernan “AKA” Forbes’ and Anele Nelli Tembe’s “passionate” relationship were rooted in her mental state, he revealed in an interview with independent journalist Thembikile Mrototo. 

Explaining that she was on medication, Forbes said that Tembe had attempted suicide on more than one occasion. 

Once, she tried to jump out of a moving car, another time, she threatened to drive her car into a wall, and she had also been booked into a psychiatric hospital in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, after threatening to jump from the roof of the Hilton Hotel in Durban last year

Although careful not to doubt his own actions when dealing with these incidents, Forbes said it felt as though, at times, “she was holding something against me”.

ALSO READ: ‘She was my everything’ – AKA explains the day before Nelli’s suicide  

And on the day of her death, he said “ I didn’t really believe that Anele would do that. But at the same time I wanted to remove myself from it. If I was the cause, something in me said to just get away.”

“I regret many things, not just that. In the hours after it happened, I thought about my entire relationship with her, since the start. Could I have helped her, and taken her disposition more seriously? Should I have been more pushy about her taking her medication?

“We sought the help of our parents, we were due for marriage counselling in the coming week after this had happened. The steps were there for us to resolve our differences. We also sought spiritual guidance from a pastor. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the time to do [these things].”

‘I never hit her’

When asked about the footage of him punching a hole in a door, Forbes conceded that it must have scared her.

“It was an argument I cannot recall. I remember breaking that door. I can only imagine how terrified I must have made her, and that’s something I own and wish I could change. That’s a mistake I made and I’m paying for those consequences. 

“In that moment, my passion was violent. I took it too far, I scared her, I wasn’t the man I was supposed to be. But I never hit her.”

He continued to describe both their characters as “stubborn, steadfast and volatile” at times. 

‘Ingrained in my mind forever’

Forbes went into painful detail about the moments after Tembe launched herself from the 10th floor balcony of the Pepperclub Hotel in Cape Town on 11 April.

He explained that after he looked down and saw her body, he began to scream. 

He said he ran next door and knocked on his friend’s door in a “hysterical” state. 

“[My friend] opened the door, dragged me off the floor, and the nightmare began. My friend went down, I wanted to go down but they said no. They had said she was still alive. 

“That made me go even crazier. They kept me up there. At some point my friend came up and he looked at me and shook his head and I just broke down, and that’s what happened. 

Forbes said he called his father first, who rushed to the hotel. His father then called Tembe’s father. 

He said he spoke to detectives, had pictures taken, and was made to strip at a police station “late at night”. 

Tembe’s sister’s flew to Cape Town the following Monday to identify her body.

“There was no blame. They didn’t blame me in that moment. If anything, they were… quite mournful with me.”

A time to mourn 

Forbes lashed out at media publications and police investigations, saying the inquest felt “orchestrated”, and that there were “different forces at play.” 

“There are people who want to blame me, and make me the person responsible. There are no gains. Anele’s gone. There is a lot of trauma on all sides. 

“We believe someone unlocked Anele’s phone. People are providing the papers with videos and clips. The timing is something I’m paying attention to.”

He also said police had not contacted him since the publication of media articles.

He said him pulling out of the upcoming Joburg Day concert had nothing to do with ongoing investigations, but rather with him needing time to mourn the loss of his wife. 

ALSO READ: AKA withdraws from performing at ‘Joburg Day’

“I can’t perform, I can’t work, I cannot function as a person without Anele. She was such a big part of my existence, I’m still coming to terms with my life without her.”

He also revealed that Tembe’s father was aware of his daughter’s mental health struggles and that she was taking medication, adding that he was the one who had picked her up from the hospital. 

“What I do know is that I think culturally, for what I think of, mental health and depression, suicide, it’s taboo. It’s something that won’t happen to our child. 

“Another big tragedy for me is that I was going to gain another family. And that hurts me very much. 

“Let me find a way to fill this huge gaping hole in my heart and my life.”

Watch the full interview below.