Sicelo Buthelezi and Zolisa Xulava

“I was raped” – Zolisa Xaluva delivers award winning performance

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It was a letter meant for the eyes of Principal Dlamini, played by Zolisa Xaluva, but Langa read it instead. After learning Teddy’s painful secret, Langa urged him to report Miss Manzi – real name Sihle Ndaba – for rape. But Teddy refused, out of both shame and fear that nobody would believe him. Threatening suiide if Langa ever reported the rape — actually multiple cases of rape — Teddy made his friend take the vow of secrecy. For Langa, this was not easy. Neither was it easy for him to pretend that things were still the same with Manzi. Langa became hostile towards Manzi, embarrassing her for a spelling error in front of the entire business studies class.

Zolisa Xaluva plays detective

 

Teddy too was hostile towards Manzi, which aroused suspicion in Zolisa Xaluva ’s character, Melusi Dlamini. As Teddy’s two mums, Zodwa and Gladys, yelled, speculated and pleaded with him to tell them what was troubling him, Principal Dlamini quietly pondered. To Dlamini, Teddy’s sudden change in behaviour was a mystery that ran much deeper than mere teenage rebellion. To distance himself from Manzi, Teddy spent more and more time at Zodwa’s shack and less and less time in school.

Sensing that Teddy’s problem was not the sort to be squeezed out of him, Principal Dlamini packed a sleeping bag and went to spend the night with Teddy at Zodwa’s even though the young man was a little wary. To make him feel at ease, Dlamini assured Teddy that he did not have to speak if he didn’t want to.

Love after 60

After initially trying his luck with both the Molefe daughters — Thathi and Pretty — Mike, who is Sonto’s guest, checked his libido and went about rekindling the old romance with the matriarch. From their reminiscence, we learn that Mike and Sonto had an affair while the randy old man’s wife was still living.  It is therefore no surprise that he would try to get into Pretty and Thathi’s pants while at the same time wooing their mother. And the Golden rubbish bin for Men Are Trash award goes to — drumroll — Bra Mike!

From the get go, Thathi never liked the scent of Mike. She regarded him with the same level of suspicion bestowed upon a masked man seated in an idling vehicle outside the Reserve Bank. But it was not the national treasure that Mike was after. It was Sonto’s treasure, and she eventually granted it to him. For some reason, Sonto wanted to keep their liaison a secret. After spending the night together, Mike tiptoed out of Sonto’s bedroom only to be discovered by Pretty. So much for keeping their romance on the down low.

 

Thathi who, for some reason, feels she is the guardian of her mother’s chastity, walked into Sonto’s office, to find rose petals and flickering red candles. Thathi demanded to know what was going on. Despite the petal strewn desk, Sonto denied the accusation of umjolo. Before the end of the day, Sonto would have to make a second denial against overwhelming proof of her guilt. Thathi’s reason for barging in on her mother’s office date wasn’t really to disrupt the cosy hour. She had a troublesome business associate who needed sorting out.

 

Buhle discovers the truth

It was bring-your-daughter-to-work day for Buhle’s class. Sonto was beating a man who sat bound to a chair. Close by, Sonto’s henchman had his pistol trained on him. Thathi, who is warming to her gangland vocation, watched as her mother whipped the screaming man. And that’s when Buhle entered, in search of her mother.

Gogo, are you a criminal, Buhle asked. She needn’t have enquired. The evidence was irrefutable. But to hell with the evidence.

Just like her plea of innocence on the charge of umjolo, Sonto denied being any kind of criminal. But it was too late. Buhle, despite not having her brother’s oversized brain, had added up the facts: she had overheard Sonto speaking of stolen cars, the armed henchman, the wailing dude strapped to a chair.

 

Information is power. Buhle demanded a transfer to a school in Durban, stating that she wanted to get away from her family’s crime business. Information is a loaded weapon and Buhle had her mother facing a wide barrel. Thathi was powerless against Buhle’s blackmail; let me go to Durban or I will tell Tshiamo and Langa about your dastardly deeds. Thathi caved in to the blackmail.

Hmmm. More on that later.

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Goodbye my high school love

 

Apart from policing her mother’s private life, Thathi also found herself having to separate Ntokozo and Buhle. Twice she saw them walking together. On the second occasion, Thathi disrupted the first kiss that Ntokozo and Buhle shared ever since their breakup. There was to be a second kiss. But this time it was goodbye. Fortunately for Ntokozo and Buhle, Thathi the enemy of umjolo, was nowhere near so their goodbyes unfolded without interruption.

 

Principal Dlamini learns Teddy’s secret

 

Throughout Teddy’s out-of-character eruptions of anger, Melusi had been watching, thinking, watching. He figured since Teddy wasn’t talking to anyone, he would investigate through his friends. Principal Dlamini surprised his son Ntokozo by offering to walk with him to school, “just to catch up.” But Ntokozo is sharp as a Gomora pickpocket’s knife. The moment Principal Dlamini began to ask questions, Ntokozo knew that his father’s offer of spending time with him was really all about Teddy. What Melusi doesn’t realize is that while he is busy being Principal Dlamini, great saviour of Gomora, his own son is sinking deeper into depression. Ntokozo is still coming to terms with his uncle’s death and carrying the burdensome secret of Detective Mahlasela’s murder. And just as he thought he had found a crutch in Buhle, she announced her leave-taking. Poor Principal Dlamini, as he tried to investigate the cause of one teenager’s temper tantrums, another teenage boy exploded before him.

“It’s always about Teddy,” Ntokozo said, before walking off.

Principal Dlamini had gotten nothing out of his son. But there was still one more of Teddy’s friends to interrogate. When he quizzed him about Teddy, Langa’s natural instinct was to profess ignorance. But Dlamini probed further. The weight of Teddy’s secret was overwhelming and the rape letter was burning a hole in his trouser pocket. Langa produced the crumpled letter of Teddy’s confession.

Principal Dlamini read it. There was a pensive look on his face. Later, now burdened by Teddy’s secret, Principal Dlamini would spot Teddy stealing whisky from the liquor cabinet. The usually feisty school principal did not react. Fast forward to Zodwa’s shack, Teddy sat on the floor with the whisky filled flask in his hands. He was about to numb his pain when Principal Dlamini arrived. In his hand he carried two whisky glasses. He sat down, took the whisky flask from the bemused looking Teddy and poured into both glasses. Wordlessly, he tipped back his glass. Finally he spoke.

He too was raped by an older woman. He was just fourteen years old, she was his mother’s friend. Teddy was stunned. All along he had thought that nobody would understand. As Principal Dlamini narrated a thirty year old secret, tears streamed down his face. As Teddy and Melusi hugged, they both shed an ocean of tears, illustrating the versatility of Zolisa Xaluva as an actor.

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Later, a dry eyed Principal Dlamini went home. There he found Manzi, sharing laughs with Gladys, as though she hasn’t raped anybody lately. Melusi exploded.

 

“You raped Teddy. Under my roof!”

Zolisa Xaluva – South Africa’s best actor?

 

Zolisa Xaluva is 39 years old and the duration of his acting career is nowhere near that of veterans Sello Maake KaNcube, Robert Whitehead, Seputla Seogodi, Siyabonga Thwala, Vusi Kunene, Menzi Ngubane or John Kani. But the versatile Port Elizabeth born actor certainly illustrated how close he is to joining the short list of television screen giants. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again — when all the current greats are dead or retired, Zolisa Xaluva, pun intended, will be the Principal of South African acting. We are privileged to witness his continued growth.

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Young Sicelo Buthelezi who plays Teddy is, in acting terms, still in his Pampers. But the best newcomer award was no fluke. He too shows the promise of much more to come.

 

But no story is ever perfect. Clearly Buhle (real name Ama Qamata) has been granted leave from Gomora, likely for other acting work. Buhle’s sudden wish to join a Durban friend whom we never heard of is a tad too contrived. It was all very sudden. The writers could have eased this into the script; slowly showing Buhle’s sadness at being in Gomora, perhaps Buhle being more and more suspicious of her grandmother’s business, Buhle chatting to this mysterious friend in Durban.

All the same, it was a brilliant week on Gomora.

 

Till next week, my pen is capped.

 

Jerà

 

Gomora airs weekdays at 7:30pm on Mzansi Magic and is available on Showmax.

 

Images from Twitter

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