Kaunda Selisho
Lifestyle Journalist
5 minute read
19 Nov 2021
4:55 pm

How Musa and Liesl are using the spectacle of their marriage to inspire change

Kaunda Selisho

Speaking at an anti-GBV campaign launch three months after they first got married, Liesl and Musa explained their strategy as influencers.

Musa Mthombeni and his wife, Liesl Laurie-Mthombeni. Picture: Instagram

A spectacle is defined as ​​a visually striking performance or display. The word has also been used in reference to Liesl Laurie and Musa Mthombeni’s marriage. 

The pair went public with their relationship shortly after he proposed and their love has been on display ever since, much to the annoyance of many on social media. 

However, there is no denying the unparalleled interest in their relationship – and the couple is well aware of this.

On the day that marked the third month of their marriage, they both participated in a panel discussion for Carling Black Label’s No Excuse event this past week.

The event was an experiential launch for the brand’s “Bride Armour” campaign at The Venue in Melrose Arch. 

Based on the saddening fact that one in three women experience intimate partner violence (IPV), with women facing abuse at the hands of a man who vowed to love and protect them, Carling Black Label used their ongoing #NoExcuse campaign to shift the focus to the vows that men make. Namely, the task of holding them to account when they break that vow. 

“#NoExcuse believes that the time has come for men to make a new vow; a vow to love, protect and never abuse a woman.”

The Bride Armour campaign launch was held ahead of the start of the 16 Days of Activism period in an effort to put the spotlight IPV. 

ALSO READ: Men urged to end toxic masculinity

Carling Black Label commissioned the design of a wedding gown covered in armour that is meant to be symbolic of how the average South African woman lives with the messed up reality that she needs to consider protecting herself from her partner when entering into any romantic relationship. 

The designer behind the dress is Suzaan Heyns. She created the bridal gown using data from cases of IPV shared by Lifeline (with the consent of the victims). 

The dress was unveiled in what the brand calls “a moving fashion film” that was showcased at the launch event followed by a “fashion show” of sorts along with a symbolic wedding ceremony. 

The Bride Armour gown features a bulletproof bodice and a fire-resistant train along with a range of design elements carefully selected to demonstrate the brutality experienced by women at the hands of their intimate partners.

Dr Musa Mthombeni, the event’s host, headed two panel discussions, with one featuring his own bride. 

They sat alongside the likes of Nomsa Papale from Lifeline, creative consultant Nicola Cooper (who worked closely with Suzaan Heyns), editor-in-Chief of GQ Magazine Molife Kumona, and influential couples such as Lerato and Phetola Makhetha and Kabelo and Gail Mabalane. 

“Father-A-Nation’s Craig Wilkinson was the final member of the panel, providing insight into the work #NoExcuse has been doing in communities around South Africa.” 

ALSO READ: South Africa gears up for 16 Days of Activism

Explaining why they chose to get involved in this campaign, Liesl reminisced about she grew up with the desire to one day be a person of influence so that she could use her influence to spark change on things that plagued people that grew up in a place like the one she grew up in – a township. 

“And when you ultimately sit in a chair such as this, or a position like the one we have now, you have to be very mindful of which campaigns and which movements you tie your name to,” said Liesl.

She also shared how she and Musa had said no to various offers for campaigns in the capacity as a public couple because of a conversation they had about the importance of their influence as a couple.

“We have said no to various brands because I said to him, and we had the conversation, and he explicitly made it clear to me as well, that our influence as a unit, we will put it behind things of major substance and things that need to have societal change.”

“When Musa got that email, he forwarded it to me and said ‘baby, I think this is it’. And this is one of many, the first of many initiatives that myself and my husband will put our names behind to bring about change,” explained the radio host. 

Adding to what she had to say, Musa explained why he will continue to work on the campaign for the foreseeable future, highlighting the brand’s focus on putting men at the centre of discussions around intimate partner violence and targeting their anti-abuse messages at men who, statistically speaking, mete out most of the violence. 

Another couple who echoed Musa and Liesl’s sentiments are actor Lerato Makhetha and his wife Phetola. 

Speaking to The Citizen, the couple (who also shares a YouTube channel) shared why they also chose to get involved in such a campaign.

Phetola traced it all the way back to the beginning of the lockdown where she says the “stillness” of being at home allowed Lerato the space to reflect and it is that reflection that helped him zone in on his purpose. 

“Everything he’s ever thought that he wanted to do, in that moment, it was like ‘now I know that I need to do a, b, c at this moment.’ It was confirmation. That’s what I observed.”

When we first became aware of Lerato, he was part of the SABC3 acting talent search show ‘The Final Cut’. He had a minimal social media presence and very little was known about him other than the fact that he is the son of Claudine Mofokeng and her husband, Jerry ​​Mofokeng wa Makhetha (Neo Mokhethi and etv’s Scandal!). Fast forward to 2021 and he seems to have cemented himself as an actor, content creator, activist and one half of a powerhouse partnership. 

“What’s changed between then and now is that then I was pursuing a career for self-gratification, now I’m pursuing impact…” added Lerato succinctly.