On a recent episode of Checkpoint on eNCA, the Sushi King apologised for having once been a blesser himself and for ‘turning many girls into prostitutes’. The show also explored other aspects of the relationship and sexual phenomenon.
eNCA’s current affairs show has aired its latest episode investigating the phenomenon of blessers, a euphemism for “sugar daddies on steroids”, as the show refers to them.
It spoke to 27-year-old “blessee” Amanda Cele, who is unemployed but lives in a flat in the suburbs, drives a Mercedes and wears a range of luxury brands – all thanks to her blesser, who she said “makes things happen”.
Serge Cabonge, by his accent not a South African man, described himself as a blesser and claimed to have spent R100 000 on one of the women he has “blessed”.
He claimed that 75% of the women in South Africa expected money out of a relationship.
Surprisingly, however, former “Sushi King” Kenny Kunene was highly critical of the blesser phenomenon, although he admitted that he had once been a big part of it.
He said that it would be better to describe the trend as “pimps and prostitutes”, as what takes place is “the action of a prostitute”.
He explained that he had taken advantage of the fact that his young female targets came from poor backgrounds and were only too happy to be showered with gifts, taken on trips and booked into five-star hotels – in return for sex. Kunene famously told talk show host Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu that he was dating 15 women at the same time but recently told The Citizen that he was now in a steady relationship with a long-time girlfriend, with whom he was serious.
If South Africa accepted the trend of blessers and blessees, Kunene told Checkpoint, we would be saying that “it is OK to create a society of young prostitutes”.
Blessee Cele said that, to her, a man’s looks were not important and that it was all about what he could pay for.
The website Blesserfinder also featured on the show, with its founder admitting that his wife didn’t know about his “business venture” that matched prospective blessers and blessees. He claimed each blesser on his site could be contacted by six to 10 women after the blesser was properly vetted by site administrators.
The website’s founder, whose identity was withheld, said that they had more women than men subscribed and that the site was a safer way to meet a blesser than going to a mall, where the guy might “turn out to be a psycho”.
Kunene remained critical. “You are bringing people together on the basis of transactions. That is transactional sex. That site must be closed. No black man pays a woman for companionship. They pay for sex.”
But the site founder countered: “It’s not prostitution if they have sex on the fourth day. No money was exchanged beforehand.”
Kunene offered an eccentric apology to the camera: “I want to apologise to the women I have turned into prostitutes myself. I have used them, given them money, the good life, for one intention only: for them to drop their panties.”
The episode also featured a stokvel known as Mavuso that throws parties for its 45 official members. It has attracted interest because of women “offering a good time” to the men at the parties.
Mavuso is township slang for money given to a woman after she’s spent the night at your house.
The women are induced at the parties to go home with men offering them money, and often the amounts are agreed beforehand.
One of the women, Lesoa Seroka, revealed that the “required amounts” to take a woman home would be announced at the stokvel party (which was R300 on the night the cameras were there). She added that she understood that what was happening was akin to prostitution, but there were also differences from normal paid sex work.
Another woman at the party, Kaohelo, countered that it wasn’t prostitution, but “compensation” for going home with a man.
The Checkpoint episode concluded that these women were “entry-level blessees” who might later graduate to the more glamorous lifestyle of the suburbs.