Media personality Unathi Nkayi is unlikely to be part of the upcoming season of popular singing competition Idols SA.
According to sources close to the production, Nkayi’s break from the show will coincide with the dramatic return of controversial judge and fan favourite Somizi Mhlongo.
Following an eventful year in the personal lives of the two judges, which made several headlines, City Press has learnt that the production team of Idols SA and M-Net were recently locked in meetings to discuss the fate of the show, which has been heavily affected by the controversies surrounding its judges.
The show will return for season 18 and auditions will begin on January 23.
A source said:Somizi has been given the green light because he is obviously the life of the show and there was a huge difference when he was not on the show, in terms of declining viewership. So he will be making a return this season after he was given a break last year to sort out his personal issues.
Mhlongo was removed from the show last season after his estranged husband, Mohale Motaung, levelled allegations of abuse against him in a leaked audio recording during their divorce proceedings.
Motaung claimed that Mhlongo physically abused him and, in one incident, chased him with a knife.
Mhlongo denied the allegations, but was taken off air after a backlash from gender-based violence activists and the public.
He took a break from several gigs, including as host of popular show The Bridge on Metro FM and as ambassador of sneaker brand Bathu.
Another source close to the star revealed that Mhlongo’s return had been marked by several in-house advertorial gigs for M-Net that he is currently filming.
“People called for Somizi to be cancelled after those allegations by Mohale, but somehow he remains undefeated.
“He is coming back and now his number one rival on the show is going out. That should show you how powerful that guy is in the industry,” the source said.
Nkayi will allegedly be booted for similar reasons to those for Mhlongo.
She recently had a public fallout with radio station Kaya FM.
In November, Kaya FM confirmed that Nkayi had been fired from the station following a verbal altercation with fellow host Sizwe Dhlomo.
Nkayi apparently filed a report against Dhlomo and gave details of the incident that were allegedly inaccurate and proven so by audio evidence.
She was later accused of attempting to discredit Dhlomo by accusing him of mistreating and bullying her.
“Idols gave Somizi a break based on allegations of gender-based violence, and Unathi was entangled in the allegations that she made against Sizwe which were found to be false. So she now has to be given a break from the show,” the source said.
Nkayi did not answer her phone and did not return text messages.
Idols SA spokesperson Lucky Mangena declined to comment in detail on the matter, only confirming that auditions for the show would commence in a week.
He said:We are starting with auditions on the 23rd, but they will be online.
He would not comment on Nkayi’s rumoured exit and Mhlongo’s return.
“Unfortunately, I can’t confirm that right now. We are still locking a few things [in], so I can’t confirm anything at the moment,” said Mangena.