What’s Going In Mzansi TV Industry?

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A body count that kept stacking up like a tower of babel was bound to bring up a question or two from the concerned.

News of the passing of Siyabonga Sdumo Zubane got seasoned actress Connie Chiume asking…,

“What is going on especially in our industry?”

It is a question that could get looked at as just an expression of momentary grief or as a loaded quiz. When choosing to entertain the stacked interrogation view, it could get said lots were happening.  

South African television channels and production companies were flourishing thanks to the popularity of domestic productions and efforts of the work force behind them.

The chockablock advertisement in local soapies, telenovelas or drama series meant good profits.

A lot also got said, openly or as whispers in the deep. There were actors that got subjected to pile of filth behind the scenes in the local film and television sector. However, justice for the actor appears not to be a dish that could be served anytime soon in the thriving local television and film world. 

Thus suicide persistently haunts the South African thespian community. Patrick Shai took his own life, and so did Arendsvlei actor Ceagan Arendse,  Yizo Yizo star Jabu Christopher Kubheka and the award-winning actress Shoki Mokgapa. 

Zubane got reported as no more a day after SK Khoza was quoted by Times Live saying…,

“People forget that they can say things that could make someone easily take their life.”

Over a month ago, Khoza got many worried when he took to Instagram to write that he was perhaps not meant to live and be great in this lifetime. Brilliant actress Vatiswa Ndara was also once reported to have attempted suicide.  

Early in 2021, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture launched the SILAPHA Wellness Intervention Programme. The initiative got promoted as a proactive rather than reactive intervention. The official word was that the programme was about an open engagement in addressing creative industry challenges of depression and legal and financial management issues. 

Was the wellness programme focusing more on the symptoms and not on the causes or sources of the depression? 

Ndara and another talented actress Ramie Chuene said, at some point, not all was well behind the scenes in the local film and television industry.

Their revelations hinted at the violation of the human rights of actors. The South African constitution guaranteed rights such as not being subjected to slavery (wages). The right to fair labour practices, an environment not harmful to human health or wellbeing. The respect and protection of human dignity.

So, were South African actors blame shifters?

Were they the cause of their problems, or were their problems compounded somewhere else by the acts of others?

Let the powers that be address the question coming from an elder thespian mom Connie Chiume. 

What is going on in the South African film and television sector to fuel raging fires of suicide that keep circling, engulfing and eating away at the souls of South African creatives? 

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