To Nonkanyiso Conco’s former college friends, her sudden lifestyle change a few years ago all makes sense now.
The 24-year-old reportedly gave birth to former president Jacob Zuma’s baby last week at a private hospital in Durban, his 23rd known child.
Conco, who now lives in the exclusive Hilltop Estate at the Zimbali Coastal Estate near Ballito, is believed to have studied journalism at Varsity College Durban North in 2014 and 2015. It is not clear if she completed the course elsewhere.
A college friend of hers remembers Conco as a popular, thoughtful and kind young woman, but otherwise not especially remarkable or rich.
“She was just an ordinary girl. We used to ride taxis together … but the next minute, oh my God!” she said.
“The year she came out all hot. She had, like, these diamond rings. We used to gossip about it. She looked really good,” she said.
“There was this little joke among us that she had a sugar daddy.”
Zuma is 52 years her senior. It appears that Conco may have known Zuma for quite some time. In 2013, when she was 19 years old, she tweeted: “Don’t believe this OMG!!! Am going back to that Hollywood house, to spend the whole weekend this time! #Zuma’s home @Nkandla. Whop [sic]. Can’t Wait.”
Conco, her student friend said, started going to expensive clubs and dressing in the latest fashions. She also got a car and, unheard of for most students, moved into a fabulous flat overlooking the Durban harbour. “It was gorgeous, it was pretty posh,” the friend said.
Conco would sometimes mention tenders and overseas trips, but although some of the students in her circle made no bones about having older, richer boyfriends, she was guarded about the source of her good fortune.
“She was very secretive … Now it makes sense. She was very involved in ANC things, very involved in politics.
“Now when I think about it she was very passionate about the ANC,” said the source.
Companies and Intellectual Property Commission records show that Conco is the sole director of a company called GN Massages, the address of which is a block of flats in Margaret Mncadi Avenue, which overlooks Wilson’s Wharf, a popular tourist spot on Durban’s waterfront.
City Press visited the block yesterday, where bachelor flats, like the one registered to Conco’s massage company address, are rented for about R4 000 a month.
Asked about the flat, a source close to the building’s management confirmed to City Press that Conco once lived there, saying “Yes! Yes! That’s Zuma’s girl!”
Conco is believed to have worked as an intern at a Zulu-language newspaper in Durban during her student years.
A picture of her taken at the time shows her at Independent Newspapers in Durban.
The photo shows her in a broad-brimmed hat, smiling and standing on an upstairs veranda where journalists go to smoke and gossip.
But long before that, she was a member of an organisation that advocates virginity testing and no sex before marriage. In her early teens, she joined the Nomkhubulwane Culture and Youth Development Organisation. It is based in Pietermaritzburg and promotes indigenous culture and values.
Its founder and director Nomagugu Ngobese confirmed that Conco was a former member and that she attended the Umkhosi woMhlanga, or Zulu Reed Dance, for many years.
Ngobese described her as “well-liked, respected and sociable”.
She would not comment on the reported VIP birth or Conco’s lifestyle in the three years since she had left.
“She was one of my participants, one of my girls, but she’s grown up. When they are grown up, we must say they must do what they like. We have done our duty.”
Ngobese said Conco’s family came from Matatiele, Eastern Cape, and that she attended Haythorne Secondary School in Pietermaritzburg. This could not immediately be verified.
Vukile Mathabela, a spokesperson in the presidency, referred all queries to Zuma’s family. Zuma’s son, Edward, could not be reached for comment.
Another family member, Ray Zuma, confirmed to News24 that Zuma would marry Conco.
By yesterday, she had changed her name on Twitter and Facebook to Nonkanyiso Conco Zuma.
Asked if this was the same woman who gave birth to Zuma’s baby, he responded by saying: “So?
“I can’t see why you are interested. When he was still the president, you [the media] were terrorising him, and now you are all of a sudden interested in him.”
When News24 asked about the details of the wedding, he said he was not privy to them.