DURBAN – It appears the Gqom sensation, Babes Wodumo, could be watching the BET Awards on television like many South Africans after allegedly failing to secure her visa travel documents ahead of her first overseas trip as an artist.
While Durban rapper Nasty C has already taken to the streets of New York in style this week, raising himself proudly atop a rooftop of an SUV in the City of New York as cameras flashed on him, the Gqom Queen appeared to be stuck in South Africa having failed to secure her travel visa in time for the trip.
Just last week, both Durban artists were hosted by the eThekwini Municipality in a breakfast send off ahead of their trip to the BET Awards, where they are both nominated in the Best International: Africa category.
It is alleged that Babes, whose real name is Bongekile Simelane, and her, beau-cum-manager, Mampintsha, whose real name is Mandla Maphumulo, were meant to travel to the US this week but failed to apply for their travel visa on time.
A source at the American Embassy’s offices in Durban, who cannot be named as they were not permitted to speak to the media, said the duo rocked up at the embassy on Tuesday to apply for the travel visa.
According to the website of the U.S Embassy and Consulates in South Africa, applicants have to undergo an interview before a travel visa is issued.
Interviews for the visa are determined by appointment only and must be scheduled at least 60 days before the travel date where possible.
The appointments are available Monday to Thursday and there’s a waiting period for the appointment, the website states.
When the Sunday Tribune called the office of the American Embassy to enquire, it was confirmed that the name of Bongekile Simelane is not on the list of applicants who have done an interview and it also does not appear on the list of those whose interviews are scheduled until Thursday this week.
The BET Awards takes place at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, this Sunday.
“Bongekile Simelane is not on our system, if she has not done an interview there’s no way she can travel to America for an event which is on Sunday. Even if she applies for it today, it’s our busy season, there’s a waiting period of about 3 to 4 weeks,” said an official at the embassy.
A source further revealed that her manager approached prominent politicians in Durban to intervene by way of convincing the American Embassy, but they too were sent packing and were told special interviews are paid for and are for VIP’s, whereas Babes only fell under the category of normal citizens.
In a statement, the organisers of the BET Awards, Viacom International Media Networks Africa, said: “As Viacom International Media Networks Africa, we have assisted the 2017 BET Awards nominees in securing their travel requirements in a speedy manner.
However it has been brought to our attention by the management of the nominee in question that she has not secured a visa. We are in contact with the nominee’s management and are working together to find a solution”.
Repeated calls to both Babes and her beau, Mampintsha, were not successful on Wednesday as their phones were off.
Babes posting on her Instagram page by late on Wednesday night, appeared to be very much in South Africa and enjoying the company of a puppy with Mampintsha lurking in the background.
– SUNDAY TRIBUNE