By Gen Terblanche26 September 2023
Hail to the queens in The River, eHostela, Outlaws and more
Keep sweet, pray and obey? No way. Our underworld queens make the rules and pity the fool who underestimates them or tries to “teach” them their place. When no one steps aside for you, when the world sees you as lesser, that’s when you really learn how to get around people and their rules to get what you want. Alpha posturing is for amateurs.
So whether her court is behind prison bars, in hostels, in the wild mountains, or in billionaire boardrooms, this queen uses wit and ruthlessness to hold her own. And when we say she uses her femininity to get her way, we’re not talking about flashing some cleavage or an ankle. She rules because her genius lies in understanding the people around her, and using them as human chess pieces. Her art is subtlety, motivation and manipulation. And when that doesn’t work, well, there’s always money, a machine gun and murder. Looking at her, you’d never know how much power she wields … until it’s too late.
South Africa’s hostel system is the notorious breeding ground for hired assassins known as izinkabi (see Showmax Original true-crime series Rosemary’s Hitlist for a real-life look at how the system works). The hostels are a man’s world to the extreme, but in eHostela S3 we see a widowed KaMabizela (Gcinile Nkosi) take over operations at the KwaDukuza hostel in Bergville to strike back at gangster Ngwadi (Siyabonga Thwala) for murdering his business partner, her husband, Mdletshe (Tony Kgoroge).
Ngwadi might think that all it’ll take is one bullet to make him the new hostel boss, but KaMabizela knows that what it really takes is loyalty, and now he’s going to learn to fear the wrath of a righteous woman. Just watch the freshly widowed KaMabizela tell Nwadi, “You can only shoot other men in their back at night. When your day comes, I will be looking you directly in the eyes. That’s a woman for you.” To KaMabizela, avenging her husband is a final act of devotion in a loving marriage.
You see that woman there milking a cow outside her mountain hut with her blanket wrapped around her shoulders? What if we told you she is one of the four bosses in Top Four, the notorious crime syndicate behind billions of Rands in cattle theft on the ZA-Lesotho border! Moretlo Ts’eole (Mmabatho Mogomotsi) is ready to drag any of the other three bosses through the dirt if they try to push trouble into her lap.
After a lifetime of experience juggling male egos – from her brother Leabua (Gift Leotlela) whingeing that he should be in charge, to her son Leruo (Lehlohonolo Mayeza) moaning that he doesn’t want to babysit Leabua’s menace of a son, Tlali (Keketso Mpitso), during their raids – being a Top Four boss is a holiday in the sun. Moretlo rides as if she was born in the saddle, and she can wield a machine gun as easily as she holds a broom or smokes her pipe, so don’t think you can give her attitude.
On paper, within the walls of Thabazimbi Women’s Correctional Services prison, corrupt Governor Deborah Banda (Pamela Nomvete) is boss. The truth is that it’s more of a tug of war. And the woman with lasting power within the ever-changing battle is Zandile Mkhwanazi, best known as MaZet (Dawn Thandeka King). Twenty years behind bars have taught her patience, resilience, cunning, resourcefulness, and how to tip the scales in her favour with the lightest touch on someone’s weak spot, or through a small kindness in a time of need.
But she can hold her own in a physical fight, too. MaZet is a genius when it comes to understanding people, and grasping the shifting tides of loyalties within the walls. She rules by strategy, not cruelty and fear, so even her deadliest enemies have to respect her. MaZet’s only vulnerabilities are her love for her daughter and her friends. Never count her out, though, not even when she’s drooling in a straitjacket!
Over six seasons, The River has told the story of Lindiwe Dlamini-Dikana (Sindi Dlathu), the owner of the Khanyisa Diamond mine, whose fortune was built on murder, and a diamond worth R45 million. There’s no end to Lindiwe’s greed, as she preys on the local township people, tries to steal their land, calls anyone who opposes her an agent of “white monopoly capital”, and even buries her own daughter alive in an attempt to cover up the trail of death she leaves in her wake.
Lindiwe was not born to be poor and when her home, fortune and family are ripped out from under her, she can play the long game to work her way back from the shack. No wedding day is without blood and tears when Lindiwe is in town, especially if you’re trying to marry her husband. And whether she’s brokering a deal or shooting a helicopter out of the sky, Lindiwe gives 100% villainy, with 100% glamour, as she dances one step ahead of her many, many enemies.
We couldn’t talk about glamorous villainy without inviting Harriet Khoza (Connie Ferguson) to the table. She and The River’s Lindiwe are birds of a feather and, in fact, their friendship is exposed in a special crossover with The River S1 (from episode 226 to episode 230). From her throne in her deluxe, cocaine-white mansion, Harriet reigns over a drug and crime underworld empire. In public, she is a gracious, grieving widow, a mother, and the matriarch of the Khoza family, whose brother-in-law Brutus (Themba Ndaba) and own brother Kgosi (Sello Maake Ka Ncube) have rallied round her to support her and take the business off her dainty hands. Behind closed doors, though, the velvet glove comes off and the iron fist is exposed. Harriet’s glamorous facade is a weapon she has been working on ever since her father started sexually abusing her as a teenager.
From the moment she had power, she no longer tolerated betrayal from the men in her life. And once she found out she could make trouble disappear with one phone call to a hitman, it has been game over for any man who tries to tread on Harriet Khoza.
So bow to the queens of entertainment, they’re going to make it worth your while!
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