Did musician-producer Sello "Chicco" Twala bite off more than he could chew by claiming he owns 75% of Brenda Fassie's music? This is a question experts in the music industry are asking after it emerged that he sold his publishing rights to Gallo Music for more than R700 000 in 2005. by Ntombizodwa Makhoba
This could derail his court bid to stop the planned biopic about Fassie's life.
But Twala was unfazed this week by those questioning his claim about Fassie's music.
He said he was going ahead with his court bid to stop plans by Fassie's son Bongani to tell his mother's story in the documentary.
A source close to the industry, who asked not to be named, said: "Bongani is the sole heir to his mother's estate. He owns his mother's rights except for the publishing rights on her songs."
Speaking through his manager Vaughn Eaton, Bongani Fassie said he had heard Twala had sold his publishing rights.
Eaton said Twala seemed to have forgotten that he did not write and produce all Fassie's songs, which meant the biopic could go ahead.
"One thing Chicco and people must understand is that Bongani is telling his mother's story, which has nothing to do with Chicco's music.
"If we want to use any of the music he wrote or produced we'll ask for his permission," Eaton said.
Another independent source in the music industry, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Twala sold his publishing rights.
When City Press contacted Gallo Music on Friday, a woman, who refused to identify herself, said the company would not comment on queries concerning Twala and referred the questions to Gallo Music group's label service manager Rob Cowling, who did not respond to calls and text messages.
This week a fuming Twala refuted the claims, saying it was not true that he sold his publishing rights to Gallo Music.
But he confirmed receiving "an advance" from Gallo Music, refusing to give details of the transaction and the figures.
"To this day Gallo Music still consults me for clearance if someone wants to use the music I wrote and produced. I get royalties every year from Gallo Music," Twala said.
He said he is concerned that Bongani is following in his mother's footsteps as a big spender.
He said today Bongani insults and badmouths him, but when he was down and out Twala looked after him.
"Last year I gave him more than R200 000 bit by bit, but he was still not grateful. He is unstable," he said.
Eaton said Twala should not claim he gave Bongani money as if it was coming from his own pocket.
"The money I remember Chicco gave Bongani from his pocket was R2 000, not R200 000. The money that he might be referring to is his mother's royalties that was due to him. It isn't true that he is unstable," said Eaton.
Did Twala mishandle Fassie's money?
He was accused of mishandling Fassie's finances when news surfaced that MaBrrr, as Fassie was affectionately known, died at the age of 39 in Sunninghill Hospital on 8 May 2004 after she overdosed on cocaine.
At the time of her death, Fassie was reported to have been flat broke having squandered her money on drugs and alcohol.
This week Twala said it was strange that no one had said anything about the drug lords who fed Fassie drugs all those years.
He said in his four years of working as Fassie's manager, they spent more than R11 million on her luxury lifestyle.
"In the end both of us were in trouble with Sars [SA Revenue Service], because I couldn't account and [explain] that most of the money was spent on drugs," he said.
In 2008 when Fassie and Twala were separating and terminating their contract, Twala filed an affidavit at the South Gauteng High Court [then Witwatersrand local division], claiming that his job with the queen of African pop was extremely difficult.
At the time he described Fassie as a spendthrift who led a raucous lifestyle and it was impossible "to contain" her.
"Brenda was an outstanding talent, but wild and had no concept of the value of money.
"I was concerned about her wild character, addiction to alcohol and drugs, and her insatiable habit of spending without limitation."