Idols SA winner: Karabo or Mmatema?

In a super tense Idols SA week, raking in an astonishing record number of 11.2 million votes, 21-year old Rhema Varrie (21) from Alberton became the show’s last casualty before the all-important final. This means that 24-year Karabo Mogane from Mbombela in Mpumalanga and 23-year-old Mmatema Moremi from Zebiedela in Limpopo will fight it out become South Africa’s next Idol.

Even though he had to say goodbye to the competition, Rhema received more votes than last year’s Top 3 combined.
The former financial advisor who had been the sole provider for his family at the time of the auditions, has quietly run his own race throughout his Idols SA Top 10 experience. In the first Spectacular on 20 September he had all four of the judges dancing in their seats with his spirited performance of Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror”. Unathi Msengana pointed out that even the Idols SA band – which comprises some of the best musicians working in the country today – loved his performance.
“You have a great voice, very sincere and honest,” Gareth Cliff told Rhema after his performance of the John Legend ballad “This Time” in the Top 9 Spectacular, and Somizi Mhlongo was beside himself after Rhema’s interpretation of Simply Red’s 1989 ballad, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”, in the Eighties-themed Top 8 Spectacular. “You speak to the heart and into the soul!” he raved.


In the Top 7 “Showstopper” Spectacular on 11 October Rhema brought some of the Chris Brown magic with “Fine China”, and Gareth loved it.” I thought it was inspired to do something old school,” he noted. And Somizi was blown away by Rhema’s twin performances of Radiohead’s “High And Dry” and One Republic’s “Counting Stars” in the “90’s vs Now” Top 6 Spectacular. “When Jesus says ‘yes’, no Randall can say ‘no’!” he cracked. “Hallelujah!”
In the Top 5 Spectacular at the end of October Rhema performed Bruno Mars’s “Billionaire” and the Percy Sledge classic “When a Man Loves a Woman” and Somizi said that he could not fault him.

Rhema won himself a standing ovation with his emotional performance of the Etta James standard, “I’d Rather Go Blind” in the Top 4 show, which he followed up with Marvin Gaye “Sexual Healing”, but unfortunately all the judges agreed that he was maybe a bit too young for that particular song.

And he kicked off the Top 3 Spectacular on 8 November performing Miguel’s hit, “Adorn”, and the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back”. But unfortunately he forgot some lyrics in that performance, and Somizi as much as predicted that it would mean the end of his Idols SA journey.


The Top 2 contestants, Mmatema and Karabo will embark on the whirlwind Idols Publicity tour this week. They will be in Cape Town on Wednesday, 18 November and in Durban on Tuesday, 17 November.

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