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A cork in Bonang’s Champopo ownership?

Sparkling wine, usually the symbol of a good time, represents something closer to sour grapes for one of SA’s most popular celebrities, Bonang Matheba. She’s locked in a battle with her former management company over her sparkling wine, House of BNG. The bubbly is a top seller thanks to Bonang’s association with it but now it appears her ownership is in question. 

Matheba claims that Celebrity Services Africa (CSA) went behind her back in dealings with her winemaking partners and tried to cut her out as shareholder. CSA, meanwhile, says Matheba developed the brand with its backing and help; contractually speaking, it says, it owns House of BNG.

We haven’t seen the contract so we can’t make a call but the issue doesn’t sit well with many South Africans: Matheba’s highly valuable name and face simply used to sell a product that someone says she cannot own. It’s particularly touchy given that the product in question is sparkling wine, long the purview of South Africa’s moneyed white elites. 

Matheba became the first black woman to be accredited by SA’s Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) association in 2019; this vouches for the wine having been made the traditional French way. In September 2020 Matheba announced that House of BNG had become Woolworths’ top-selling MCC. 💅🏽

It’s worth noting that, according to CSA, Matheba still earns royalties for every sale made. CSA now says it wants out of the business. We’ll be watching the drama from the sidelines – with a bottle of bubbles to hand, naturally. 🍾

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 21 October 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.