Canny Khanyi runs circles around media

ANOTHER week, another Khanyi Mbau story and yet more complaints and pulling out of hair in disgust.

ANOTHER week, another Khanyi Mbau story and yet more complaints and pulling out of hair in disgust.

Everybody, it seems, hates Khanyi - if the steady stream of angry letters to newspapers and complaints to my office are anything to go by.

A common theme of all the complaints shows she's a parent's worst nightmare - the embodiment of the idea that a young woman does not need a good education to get ahead.

Khanyi inhabits an iniquitous world in which modesty, politeness and living by the sweat of your brow are passé - a universe in which sweet, young loins are the currency.

She's the kind of woman feminists love to hate - a glorified bimbo who glamorises the idea that all a woman needs to possess is a desirable body that she can flaunt to bag a rich man and live the high life for as long as it lasts.

Personally, I thought the Khanyi phenomenon had long ago lost its novelty.

We are now all too familiar with the story of the then 20-year-old Jezebel seducing a 50-year-old rich fool, having him so firmly wrapped around her little finger that he abandoned his wife of ages and children while she played him for a fool.

We should have dumped her in the trash can and welded the lid.

But such has been her ingenuity that she has outlived the normal sell-by-date for such frivolity.

For over three years we have religiously followed her through her stormy marriage, pregnancy, motherhood and break-up from her now broke ex-hubby, Mandla Mthembu.

As stories about her became more contrived and she turned more vulgar, I became convinced the demise of the Queen of Bling was nigh. That was until she exploded on the front page of Sowetan last Tuesday and went on to mesmerise even more newspapers, as well as radio and television.

I'm no fan of Khanyi's but I must admit to having relished the revelation that Theunis Crous, the man she suckered into maintaining the lavish lifestyle Mthembu used to bankroll, was calling her a gold-digging witch and had relieved her of a Lamborghini and a BMW Z4.

But the story has changed altogether. The love-struck Crous, 51, now wants to dump his 31-year-old trophy wife, Primrose, and marry Khanyi.

As we read in The Times yesterday, Khanyi has the Lamborghini back and claims she - not Crous - paid for it, and the Z4. We know she's lying through her teeth.

But the truth will probably come out in the next episode of the real-life soap opera ...

Some people complain that such easy stories take up valuable space that could otherwise be used for investigative journalism and such worthy causes as the fight against Aids and environmental degradation.

For my part, I have been wondering whether the woes that have befallen newspapers in recent times are not, in part, a reflection of people's rejection of the crass materialism of the so-called celebrity media amid the grinding poverty in which millions of our people still wallow.

There might be merit in the argument that such stories belong in tabloids and not in serious newspapers. Proponents of this view must be particularly upset as Khanyi hogs the headlines, even of newspapers that have hitherto been held up as models for quality journalism.

My advice, for all it's worth, is that people should learn to take the bitter with the sweet. You don't have to read everything in a non-specialist newspaper.

Khanyi and her kind take up only a fraction of space in newspapers packed with worthwhile stories.

I'll go as far as to argue that serious people also need to read such stories, if only to learn how "the other half lives".

Admittedly, knowing how Kelly Khumalo slapped Khanyi at a hair salon does not add any value to my life. But, does everything I read have to? Life would indeed be boring and sad if that were the case.

Besides, I find it hard to accept that only the poor and uneducated want to read about grown men losing their heads - and millions - over young vixens.