Shortly after Tshibika’s spectacular win in Joburg on Saturday, her family were warned by three people that they had heard kidnappers had targeted the young Khayelitsha dancer and she would be held to ransom for her R250 000 prize money.
Tshibika said she was warned by a friend: “She told me she had heard that people had set a price on me for when I return. My friend’s mother advised me not to sleep at home because it’s dangerous.” Sibahle’s sister, Sinalo, told the Cape Argus.
“We were celebrating my sister’s win when a girl I don’t know approached me and told me there had been talks in the area that Sibahle or any one of us would be kidnapped and held at ransom for the money my sister had won.”
Their mother, Noluthando Tshibika, said she had been warned separately by a neighbour that her daughter’s life was in danger. She said the neighbour pleaded with her for Sibahle not to sleep at home when she returned. “He just told me that he had heard people wanted to kidnap my daughter for the money,” she said.
Noluthando decided then that the family would go into hiding.
“I don’t even want Sibahle to be around this area. It’s not safe for her and us.”
Her decision proved timeous. Burglars broke into the family’s Khayelitsha shack on Tuesday, shortly after the dancer’s return to Cape Town, but, fortunately the family had already gone into hiding.
The burglars broke in through the padlocked door and made off with a pair of the dancer’s designer Carvella shoes and a DVD player.
Ed Worster, spokesman for Rapid Blue, the producers of So You Think You Can Dance, said the show was looking into providing security for Tshibika and her family. “We are assessing the situation and consulting with executives at SABC 1 to consider how best to assist in securing their safety.”
By Tuesday afternoon Tshibika had not reported the threats to the police, but police did go to their home after a neighbour had alerted them to the break-in.
Provincial police spokesman Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said the family should open a case at the nearest police station. “If the matter is not reported to the police, the police will not be aware that she has got a problem. We therefore encourage her to report the crime to the police.”
Meanwhile, residents of Site B in Khayelitsha, where the Tshibika family live, have committed themselves to protecting Sibahle and her family.
Xolelizwe Yengwana, a member of the community’s street committee, said: “We are going to constantly guard their home and ensure we all keep an eye on them.” He added that it was unlikely that those who were after Sibahle were from the area.
The dancer’s triumph has been bittersweet. Soon after her win she learned that her grandmother had died. “I was doing this for her,” said Sibahle. “I know she would’ve been proud of me.”
Sibahle said because of the burglary and the kidnapping allegations she feared that she wouldn’t be able to attend her grandmother’s funeral.
“I’m supposed to be at home, seeing that there’s been a death in the family, but I can’t even pay my respect to my grandmother. I am scared of attending prayer meetings at my own home. What if they come for me then?”
Rapid Blue said the prize money would be placed in a trust fund within the next three months and the company would ensure that Tshibika received solid guidance from a qualified financial adviser.
Meanhwile, at the time of publishing SABC 1 spokesperson was unavailbale for comment.