Olwethu Leshabane doesn't only want Jozi's Real Housewives to sanitise their hands

The mompreneur talks about causing a stir with hand sanitiser on a reality show and the importance of speaking up about parenting issues

28 September 2018 - 11:59 By Zola Zingithwa
Olwethu Leshabane. (File photo.)
Olwethu Leshabane. (File photo.)
Image: Alon Skuy

During the seventh episode of new reality series, The Real Housewives of Johannesburg, Olwethu Leshabane ruffled the feathers of the cast when she asked them to sanitise their hands in the presence of her baby. The show aired on September 14, but the scene is still a talking point.

Leshabane describes herself as a #DigitalDoula, a mompreneur and once held the title of Mrs South Africa First Princess, but she's currently best known for starting what Glamour dubbed ‘sanitiser gate’.

Leshabane is outspoken on various parenting issues, including the importance of getting help for postnatal depression, an experience she went through after the birth of her second child.

WATCH | The 'sanitiser gate' segment from The Real Housewives of Johannesburg

She's hosting #MeetUp talks with Meg Faure, co-author of the best selling Baby Sense series of parenting books, at the inaugural The Baby Show in Johannesburg this weekend.

Leshabane states that events such as The Baby Show are important because they “facilitate constructive conversations with an approach to share and enlighten, not dictate” how parents should be doing things.

This is of course interesting in light of the fact that on The Real Housewives of Johannesburg she seemed to be dictating that the other women sanitise their hands in order to hold her baby. But, according to Leshabane this was not the case at all, and she was judged presumptuously by the other housewives and viewers of the show.

“Asking people to sanitise has nothing to do with who will be holding the baby, but everything to do with what [the] baby may come in contact with during close encounters”, Olwethu explained.

“I’m not a germaphobe, but I am a cautious mom. I sanitise my trolley at the hypermarket, I ensure my kids wash and/or sanitise their hands before eating; I ensure people that hold my baby have washed or sanitised their hands. I make sure to communicate that no one must kiss my baby.”

Leshabane states that after the episode aired many women reached out to her and shared stories of their children being hospitalised or “contracting diseases such as herpes due to kisses from strangers”.

She says these are things that motivate her to speak up about the importance of sanitation and, as she notes herself, there is no nice way to ask people to sanitise their hands when they are in your presence.

But then again, “what’s five seconds to sanitise in the bigger picture of protecting our children?” she asks.

What’s five seconds to sanitise in the bigger picture of protecting our children?
Olwethu Leshabane

Leshabane is coy about answering whether she will become a regular feature on The Real Housewives of Johannesburg and does not know if she will be asked to join the cast in season 2. Although she was only a guest on the show, she has already caused major drama, as is to be expected from this American-born franchise.

“I’m just myself. I just asked that I maintain who I am through the show. I have no fluff, frills or aesthetic. I am just authentically myself.”

Her authentic self is nonetheless serving major drama already, a true requirement of any Real Housewife.

• The Baby Show is on at the Kyalami International Convention Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg, from September 28 to 30.  Visit babyshow.co.za