The woman who exploded onto the small screen as Queen Moroka in the soapie Generations almost 20 years ago is refusing to bow down.
Emerging from a bruising period last year when she had to fight off untrue rumours about her drastic weight loss, Sophie Lichaba is not only back with a talk show, but is confidently brushing off detractors who spread rumours that she was HIV-positive, even that she died.
Last year she came out publicly about her fight against diabetes, and the devastation it wreaked on her health and wellbeing.
Lichaba tried to remain strong for her loved ones, but she said it was really painful to deal with.
The actress explained how the death hoax, which went viral on social media, traumatised her teenage son, who got wind of it while at school and couldn’t get in touch with her.
“I was at a meeting so my phone was on silent when the rumours started trending. My son tried to call me but couldn’t get hold of me. Do people who start these rumours even think about what it does to our children, or that parents can end up having a heart attack?”
But now the queen is back, and heralded her return to the small screen with a secret she has carried for 40 years.
She shared with the viewers how, when she was just eight years old, an uncle who she tried to greet with a friendly peck at a family gathering violated her.
“It was in a lounge and suddenly malume’s tongue is in your mouth. It was a shock attack. It happened in a few seconds and nobody saw it but me, so I kept it to myself,” she said.
The memory still haunts her.
She told the Sunday Times she decided to speak out now to highlight the importance of parents listening to their children. At eight years old, she knew the kiss was inappropriate but she found it difficult to expose her uncle.
Her new talkshow, Hashtags, aims to create dialogue and raise awareness about topics such as sexual abuse within families.
Her family only found out about the incident when she made the revelation on the show. The news of the incident came as a shock to them, she said.
has realised it’s always been at the back of her mind.
“I want to say to parents, when your kids come to you and say malume did this, believe them.”
The nasty social media attacks last year came just eight months after she tied the knot for the third time, with businessman Max Lichaba. But instead of enjoying the honeymoon phase of her new marriage, the actress’s husband and family had to shield her after the rumours began.
It was not easy for her family to watch her endure the attacks, especially her husband, who also had to come to grips with her battle against diabetes.
“It’s good that my husband saw me at my worst because marriage means in sickness and in health. It was just a bit much for a newlywed couple and sometimes you could see he was overwhelmed. But he was like, ‘I am here, even if I don’t understand everything’.”
Though she still faces daily struggles with the disease and is still subjected to ignorant comments about her looks, her weight loss and her relevance in the entertainment industry, Lichaba said she has accepted that everything in her life happens according to God’s will.
“I always say karma has a way of dealing with things, and sometimes it’s not my job to fight everything. The universe will fight it for me. God will fight them for me,” she said.