“She is a victim of powerful people doing everything possible to impress the president – they are taking advantage of the fact that she comes from a humble family with no political connections whatsoever,” said Ntuli-Zuma’s brother, Linda Ntuli from KwaMaphumolo, northern KwaZulu-Natal.
“Even though they know she had done nothing wrong they still continue pointing a finger at her and would go after whoever speaks in her defence,” said Ntuli.
City Press yesterday reported that Ntuli-Zuma – who now lives in Durban North after being allegedly kicked out of the president’s Nkandla homestead in January – was on the verge of being arrested in connection with the poison plot.
Citing sources within the National Prosecuting Authority, the newspaper alleged Ntuli-Zuma, otherwise known as MaNtuli, had already been questioned by investigators about her role in the plot.
Even though the Presidency had denied the claims, Zuma is said to have been told by US doctors his hospitalisation in June last year was as a result of him having been poisoned.
On his return from the US, Zuma is said to have told family members someone close to him had made an attempt on his life. He then ejected MaNtuli from the homestead a few weeks after breaking the news.
However, Zuma’s brother Michael yesterday denied the president had told any member of the family about a plot to poison him.
“I only hear these things from the media – I really do not know where it is coming from,” he said.
Asked if he knew why the president had banned MaNtuli from the homestead, he said neither the president, nor MaNtuli had briefed him on the matter.
“All I know is that she no longer lives here. She went back to her family,” he said.
Zuma’s spokesperson, Bongani Majola, declined to comment.
MaNtuli, who married Zuma amid fanfare and glitz in 2008, appeared in public for the first time since rumours about their rocky marriage emerged in January, during the funeral of the ANC’s Musa Dladla regional chairperson Thulani Mashaba in Richards Bay, northern KwaZulu-Natal.
The second of the president’s four wives, MaNtuli is not new to controversy. In 2012, elders from Zuma’s family are said to have fined her a goat after she had allegedly cheated with one of her bodyguards, Phinda Thomo.
Last year, Steven Masunga, a man who claimed to be MaNtuli’s former business associate, was jailed for three months by the Durban Regional Court after he was accused of sending MaNtuli intimidating SMS messages.
Prior to his arrest, Masunga – a Tanzanian national – had e-mailed media houses in Durban telling journalists he had received large sums of money from MaNtuli to buy his silence about Thomo, who died in mysterious circumstances in 2009.
MaNtuli could not be reached for comment. However, a statement issued by her lawyers denies any involvement in the alleged poisoning plot.