Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has expressed sadness over what he described as “controversy being created over the personal matter of a suit” made for his recent 90th birthday celebrations.
This comes after TimesLive reported that the designer of the suit, Janak Parekh, was left traumatised after Buthelezi returned the suit, reportedly worth R90 000, after the birthday.
The designer claimed the suit was a gift to the IFP leader. Buthelezi, however, said he has always felt compelled to pay for Parekh’s designs.
“I did not commission the suit nor did I expect to receive such a magnificent kindness from Janak Parekh. On his own initiative, Parekh has designed suits for me in the past. Evidently, he became aware of my admiration for Eastern apparel, which I have been purchasing for years from Mumbai, through a shop in London. Before I ever met Parekh, I bought this style of suit in New Delhi. Fifty years ago, a tailor in Durban, Daya, made the first Eastern-inspired suit for me.
“This suit, however, I certainly could not have afforded. But when Parekh presented it to me he explained that he, his brother and family had had it made specifically for my 90th birthday gala dinner. I thus agreed to wear it for the dinner. I already had my suit for the dinner but felt I should not disappoint Parekh and his family,” Buthelezi said.
He confirmed that after the August 31 dinner held in Durban, Buthelezi returned the suit to Parekh with a written letter “thanking him for his kindness”.
“My hope was that the suit could be sold to defray the costs Parekh must have incurred when he decided to have it made. I am thus taken by surprise to see that Parekh has approached the media claiming that he has no idea why I returned the suit and saying that he is ‘traumatised and heartbroken’.”
Buthelezi said he cannot understand why Parekh would continue to “create a fuss in the media when we have interacted on this personal matter with no confusion”.