What Happened to 'Below Deck Mediterranean' Alum Tumi Mhlongo?

Captain Sandy said that she would love to work with Tumi again because she was an excellent communicator. Why did she leave?

Sheridan Singleton - Author

Jun. 4 2024, Published 11:01 p.m. ET

Tumi Mhlongo in a 'Below Deck Med' Season 8 promo photo
Source: Bravo

Now in its ninth season, Below Deck Mediterranean has seen its fair share of chief stewards, but Season 8's chief stew, Tumi Mhlongo, left quite the impression with her crew and with viewers. She was embroiled in a conflict with Natalya Scudder and Kyle Viljoen and had issues with a few other crew members. She was in a tough position for numerous reasons in Season 8 and subsequently didn't return for Season 9. So what happened to Tumi from Below Deck Mediterranean?

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Below Deck Mediterranean wasn't Tumi's first super yacht experience. She appeared in 2022 on Below Deck Down Under as the second steward under Aesha Scott, who is the chief steward in Season 9. Tumi had the opportunity to learn from Aesha and brought those skills to her experience as chief stew on Below Deck Med. Unfortunately, a rough start to Season 8 led to more conflict than she likely anticipated. Later, she discovered who was truly behind the messy situation.

Captain Sandy Yawn and Tumi Mhlongo on 'WWHL'
Source: Bravo
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What happened to Tumi from 'Below Deck Mediterranean'?

As of right now, the reasoning behind Tumi's departure from Below Deck Med remains unclear. After the conflict from Season 8, many thought that she may have gotten fired. During Tumi's conflict with Natalya, Captain Sandy Yawn got tired of the disruptions the feud was causing for their charters. However, since then, Captain Sandy hasn't said anything but complimentary things about Tumi. Captain Sandy even said that she would love to work with Tumi again because she was an excellent communicator.

Tumi was embroiled in a feud with Natalya Scudder, primarily thanks to Kyle Viljeon.

Tumi Mhlongo and Natalya Scudder during BravoCon 2023
Source: Bravo

Season 8 started on a rough note when Tumi and second steward Kyle Viljoen both had immigration issues that meant they'd have to miss the first charter of the season. Because of this, Natalya had to step up and fill in as chief stew until Tumi and Kyle arrived. When they did arrive, things went south fairly quickly. Tumi didn't like the way Natalya did things in her absence, leading them to butt heads immediately. However, there was someone else who helped fuel the flames of their fight.

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Tumi and Natalya agreed that Kyle Viljeon was the primary instigator in their conflict.

When both Tumi and Kyle arrived at the Mustique, Tumi was immediately cold towards Natalya, which made Natalya dish the coldness right back at her. Why did Tumi come on so strong when she met Natalya? The culprit was Kyle, who gave Tumi a bad impression of Natalya before their arrival. He said that she was disrespectful toward their chief stew, Natasha Webb, during the prior season. Subsequently, when Tumi arrived, she wanted to make it known that she was in charge.

Tumi Mhlongo attends BravoCon 2023 at Caesars Forum on Nov. 3, 2023
Source: Getty Images

Tumi faced a lot of racist backlash when Season 8 of 'Below Deck Med' aired.

Since leaving the series, Tumi has spoken out about being the first Black woman to become chief steward in the franchise. She shared more about her Below Deck experience during an interview with Essence, where she highlighted the racism she faced when Season 8 aired. "'I sometimes do have imposter syndrome from time to time,' she confessed, 'but I have recognized what fuels it. It’s from people’s perceptions and opinions, and those should never matter, so it is a work in progress.'"

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