I am saddened by the continued public controversy being created over the personal matter of a suit which was made for my 90th birthday celebration. I did not commission the suit nor did I expect to receive such a magnificent kindness from Mr Janak Parekh.
On his own initiative, Mr Parekh has designed suits for me in the past. Evidently he became aware of my admiration for Eastern apparel which I have been purchasing for years from Mumbai, through a shop in London. Before I ever met Mr Parekh, I bought this style of suit in New Delhi.
I have always felt compelled, whenever Mr Parekh presents me with a suit, to pay for his remarkable creations.
This suit, however, I could certainly not have afforded. When Mr Parekh presented it to me he explained that he had had it made specifically for my 90th birthday gala dinner. I thus agreed to wear it for the dinner.
After the dinner, I returned the suit to Mr Parekh with a written letter thanking him for his kindness. I expressed my hope that I would see it worn again at another gala event and explained that it would be a pity to have such a valuable and beautiful item simply hanging in my wardrobe. My hope was that the suit could be sold to defray the costs Mr Parekh must have incurred when he decided to have it made.
I am thus taken by surprise to see that Mr Parekh has approached the media claiming that he has no idea why I returned the suit and saying that he is “traumatised and heartbroken”.
His interviews have fixated on the cost of the suit, which he revealed to the Sunday Tribune, saying “It’s worth over R90 000 which is in line with the number of years on earth Buthelezi is celebrating.” In the Daily News and The Swazi Observer Mr Parekh is quoted as saying, “I shouldn’t have let slip how much it cost.”
However, in The Sowetan and The Herald he claims that he did not disclose the price of the suit to anyone, saying, “I don’t know how this even came out. I would never reveal [what] it costs because that is like buying someone a gift and leaving the price tag on.”
I cannot fathom why Mr Parekh is continuing to create a fuss in the media when we have interacted on this personal matter with no confusion. Nevertheless, because it has become the focus of such public and unwarranted attention, I felt it necessary to present the facts.
Issued by IFP