David Tlale Speaks Out

Speaking out: Designer to the stars David Tlale has addressed allegations of sexual assault levelled against him. Image: Now in SA/ Tankiso Komane

EXCLUSIVE! Designer David Tlale addresses shock sexual claims

World-renowned SA designer David Tlale speaks for the first time amid sexual assault allegations made to him by a former alleged protégé.

David Tlale Speaks Out

Speaking out: Designer to the stars David Tlale has addressed allegations of sexual assault levelled against him. Image: Now in SA/ Tankiso Komane

Iconic award-winning South African fashion designer David Tlale has spoken exclusively to The South African regarding shock sexual assault and exploitation allegations made against him.

Tlale has showcased his creations at numerous fashion weeks, debuting at Paris Fashion Week in 2007. He was also the first South African designer to showcase solo at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York in 2012. Throughout the years he has become the go-to celebrity designer among celebrities, including Zozibini Tunzi, Tbo Touch, Simphiwe Dana and Minnie Dlamini.

ALSO READ: Top designer David Tlale accused of sexual assault

 In this file photo, a models walks the runway at the David Tlale fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2014 at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on 9 February 2014 in New York City. Image: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week/AFP 


On Sunday 6 November 2022, extremely damning allegations were made against the celebrity designer by Instagram user Zack (handle @mrzackiekins).

“Zack” spoke about his experience as an employee at African Fashion International (AFI) three years ago. He claims that the designer took advantage of him sexually, as well as financially.

Tlale, who at first chose to remain silent, has now broken his silence with in an exclusive response to The South African.

“Some very serious and quite damning allegations levelled against me and my professional brand have surfaced over the weekend. These allegations are categorically false and only seek to cause me serious harm and also seek to undermine the lived experiences of those who are real victims of sexual assault of any nature,” said Tlale.

“While I consult with my internal team of experts on this matter, this shall be the first and only comment on this issue until I am advised otherwise,” he continued.

ALSO READ: Call me Dr David Tlale! Honorary doctorate for top SA designer


Tlale’s alleged former protégé made inflammatory allegations on his Instagram Stories against the 47-year-old designer, claiming he drugged and sexually abused him while also exploiting him professionally.

“I was charmed and inspired by him. A role model to me at the time, and to cut the long story short, he drugged and sexually abused me. He then exploited me for my skills during the pandemic,” Zack claimed on his Instagram.

“He would ask I write him pressers, sponsorship proposals and other strategies/copy, promise to pay me — often in clothing — but wouldn’t actually. And when I’d remind him, he’d get defensive and gaslight me,” he continued.

The South African reached out to Zack for comment, but received no reply. Instead he posted the following on his Instagram:

david tlale


Tlale isn’t just known for being a mega designer. He’s also a major businessman with multiple sponsorship deals. He recently became a doctor arts and design when the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT bestowed and honorary doctorate upon the designer.