The cast and characters of Red Ink

By Gen Terblanche15 February 2024

The cast and characters of Red Ink

In thrilling drama series Red Ink, PR powerhouse Lucy Khambule’s (Nqobile “Nunu” Khumalo) life is in crisis behind the scenes. Her marriage has cracked thanks to her husband’s constant cheating, and her boss has backed out of their partnership agreement. And she’s facing these struggles as a mother. Then, at the moment when her life is at its most chaotic, South Africa’s most notorious serial killer, Napoleon “The Butcher” Dingiswayo (Bonko Khoza), phones her to demand a meeting. After 13 years behind bars the spotlight is back on The Butcher following the discovery of the corpse of one of his missing victims. And he wants Lucy to write his story.  

Red Ink is an adaptation of Angela Makholwa-Moabelo’s best selling debut novel of the same name (the sequel to Red Ink, The Reed Dance Stalker, is in bookshops now). The story is partly inspired by Angela’s own early days as a crime reporter, during which she tried to interview jailed serial killer Moses Sithole. Eight years later, while she was working at the PR company she founded, Moses Sithole reached out to her. She visited him in prison over the course of eight months with the idea of writing a book about him. 

Angela executive produced this Showmax Original series – through her company Britespark Films – in collaboration with Bomb Productions (Shaka iLembe). And she co-wrote the series with Thishiwe Ziqubu. 

Stream Red Ink from 12 February. New episodes on Tuesdays 

Watch the Red Ink trailer 

Meet the cast of Red Ink 

Lucy Khambule 

Nqobile Nunu Khumalo as Lucy Khambule in Red Ink

Ex-journalist and would-be author Lucy is now a PR powerhouse, living the beige life in the suburbs. Life is a crisis, 24/7, in the world of high-end reputation management. And Lucy’s private life is starting to fall apart, too. Her boss and ex-best friend Patricia seems to have forgotten about their partnership agreement. Her cheating husband Gary has broken countless promises, but Lucy’s stuck with him since he’s a great dad to their son, Khaya (Retshepile Masola). Lucy has untapped potential and courage, and she’s going to need both. 

Who plays Lucy in Red Ink? Nqobile “Nunu” Khumalo. 

How old is Nunu Khumalo? 31. 

Where is Nunu Khumalo from? She was born in Durban and now lives in Northriding, in Johannesburg. 

Where did she study? Nunu Khumalo matriculated from St Mary’s Diocesan School in Tshwane and has a BA in Journalism from the Midrand Graduate Institute. She signed as an actress with Moonyeenn Lee & Associates while she was studying. 

What else has Nunu Khumalo been in? Nunu made her professional TV debut as Cindy in Isibaya. She was Hlengiwe the journalist in Scandal (the role won her Best African Actress at the New Vision International Film Festival in 2019) and she played the title role in Nqobile.  

Is Nunu Khumalo married? Nunu has been in a committed relationship with Italian director Federico Ancillai since 2019. Their film Little Broken Bodies (her directorial debut) won the Tulipani Di Seta Nera Award in 2023. 

What else to know? Nunu Khumalo made her first TV appearance at the age of nine on Felicia Mabuza-Suttle’s The Felicia Show, and she started modelling at the age of 12. 

Napoleon “The Butcher” Dingiswayo/Sifiso Dingiswayo/Sipho 

Bonko Khoza as Napoleon Dingiswayo in Red Ink

This quiet gentleman with the glasses seems charming and polite. He’s a gospel music-loving, Bible-reading man who’s meticulously tidy. But Napoleon Dingiswayo is not husband material; he’s seething with rage and contempt for the world. He harbours a deep-seated misogyny, believes that women’s sexuality is inherently sinful, and that he has the right and duty to “cleanse” them by raping and dismembering them. Behind bars, Napoleon watches people strictly with a view to how he can manipulate them. He will attack verbally, then physically when he get him what he wants. 

Who plays Napoleon “The Butcher” Dingiswayo in Red Ink? Bonko Khoza (with Ntandoyethu Zondi as the young Napoleon/Sifiso) 

How old is Bonko Khoza? 32 

Where is Bonko Khoza from? He was born in Robertsham and now lives in Winchester Hills in Johannesburg. 

Where did Bonko Khoza study? Bonko studied Fine Arts at the National School of Arts in Johannesburg before entering a two-year programme in Performance and Theatre Skills at The Market Theatre Laboratory. 

What else has Bonko Khoza been in? Bonko won a SAFTA playing Mqhele in The Wife, he was Boma the warrior in The Woman King, and he’s the voice of Daddy Jo in the animated series Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes. 

Is Bonko married? Bonko Khoza is married to actress Lesego Khoza (LIndiwe in Isono). Their daughter Amahubo was born in August 2023, and she was just five months old when Bonko started his Red Ink role. 

What else to know? Bonko isn’t related to Red Ink and The Wife co-star Abdul Khoza but they are close friends. He read Red Ink three times to prepare for his role. 

Detective Morapedi 

Lorcia Cooper as Detective Morapedi in Red Ink

This brilliant, compassionate young detective is not easily shaken. She’s quick to see connections, detail oriented and has a long memory for everything from what a missing person was wearing, to the looks on the faces of a victim’s family. She’s bold enough to face down a serial killer and look him in the eye, but is she smart enough not to get too close? 

Who plays Detective Morapedi in Red Ink? Lorcia Cooper Kumalo. 

How old is Lorcia? 45. 

Where is Lorcia Cooper Kumalo from? Lorcia was born in Mitchells Plain in Cape Town and now lives in Dunkeld in Gauteng. 

Where did Lorcia study? She was a student and then a teacher at the North West Arts Council’s Dance Academy. 

What else has Lorcia Cooper Kumalo been in? She earned a SAFTA for her role as Tyson in Lockdown, and she was Lucille in Still Breathing, and Mkhonto in Housekeepers

Is Lorcia Cooper Kumalo married? Lorcia and her husband Mandla Kumalo have two children together, Jannah and Kumo. 

What else to know? Lorcia competed on the Latin American and Ballroom dancing circuit as a child dancer (with her big brother as her partner) and has a 30-year dance career under her belt.  


Kwenzo Ngcobo as KG in Red Ink S1

Charming, ambitious newshound Kagiso is an old friend of Lucy’s and one she feels she can turn to when she’s desperate. He’s pulled back into Lucy’s orbit after he blackmails her into granting one of his reporters an on-screen interview about Napoleon. Kagiso is an old-school journalist who openly admires Lucy for her skill, and enjoys her quick wit and humour. 

Who plays Kagiso in Red Ink? Kwenzokuhle “Kwenzo” Ngcobo. 

How old is Kwenzo Ngcobo? 33. 

Where is Kwenzo Ngcobo from? He was born in Izingolweni near Port Shepstone in KZN, and now lives in Midrand. 

Where did Kwenzo study? He has a BA in Drama from Durban University of Technology after dropping out two months into studying psychology. 

What else has Kwenzo Ngcobo been in? His breakthrough role was as Qhawe in The Wife (he originally auditioned to play Mqhele). He plays talent manager Zipho in upcoming Mzansi Magic series Champions. And for a good laugh, catch him on YouTube in Lasizwe Dambuza’s Awkward Dates series.  

Is Kwenzo Ngcobo married? As of January 2024 Kwenzo was in a steady relationship. 

What else to know? Kwenzo shared his dad’s love for martial arts films and he would show off for friends by trying Jean Claude van Damme stunts and spin-kicks.  


Jo-Anne Reyneke as Patricia in Red Ink

PR manager Patricia used to be Lucy’s BFF … until they went into business together at The Publicist. As Red Ink begins, she has become Lucy’s so-called friend, and her promises of 40% equity in the firm have come to nothing. While she might pull the big clients, Lucy’s the one who really sorts out the mess. Patricia can turn the tears on and off in a blink. 

Who plays Patricia in Red Ink? Jo-Anne Reyneke. 

How old is Jo-Anne Reyneke? 35. 

Where is Jo-Anne Reyneke from? She was born in Vereeniging, raised in Pietermaritzburg, and now lives in Randburg. 

Where did Jo-Anne Reyneke study? She matriculated from Russell High School with a distinction in drama, and studied music and performance at Durban’s Movietech Film and Television School. 

What else has Jo-Anne Reyneke been in? Jo-Anne’s breakthrough role was as Pearl in Muvhango. She’s Thuli Dlamini in the Black Tax series, Angelina in Isono, and Sne in the new football telenovela Champions. Jo-Anne won a SAFTA for her role in Broken Vows 

Is Jo-Anne Reyneke married? She was married to Generations star Thami Mngqolo for 10 years and they have two children together, Uvolwethu and Lungelo. 

What else to know? She went on TV show Khumbul’ekhaya when she was 22 years old to try to contact her father, Johan Reyneke, who last saw her when she was two years old.


Yonda Thomas as Gary in Red Ink

Lucy’s husband is charming, handsome, selfish and a player. He has sophisticated tastes in everything from suits to alcohol and cooking ingredients. He’s a great listener, great dancer, great in bed, a great dad, and yet, a lousy husband. Gary watches porn on his laptop, can’t be trusted behind closed doors at a party, and is a messy and careless cheat. He plays golf and only ever reads non-fiction. He’s going to be hard to get rid of. 

Who plays Gary in Red Ink? Yonda Thomas. 

How old is Yonda Thomas? 38. 

Where is Yonda from? He was born in Mthatha and now lives in Randburg. 

Where did he study? Yonda Thomas has a BA in Public Administration, and originally moved to Johannesburg to be a diplomat. 

What else has Yonda Thomas been in? He was unemployed when he took a chance on acting competition Class Act (in the same year as Sdumo Mtshali and Thabo Rametsi). Yonda was Detective Sabelo in Redemption, and Khaya in the How To Ruin Christmas movies.  

Is Yonda Thomas married? Yonda and his long-time love, medical doctor Mumtaaz “Taz” Emerans, tied the knot in 2022 and they have been raising Taz’s son Dhayaan together since he was six years old. 

What else to know? Yonda Thomas got his first callback at an audition that he wasn’t even there for! He was just intending to support his brother (who did not land his role). Did that lead to an awkward car ride home? Yes. Yes it did.  


Fundi is Lucy’s hype woman, her BFF and the yin to her yang. She holds Lucy’s hand through those major life changes, like dumping your cheating husband’s stuff on the street. Fundi might be the only sane person in Lucy’s world. Why listen to what a serial killer has to say, when he’s exactly where he needs to be? But Fundi’s love life is dangerously messy. 

Who plays Fundi in Red Ink? Tsholofelo Maseko. 

How old is Tsholofelo Maseko? 32.

Where is she from? Tsholofelo was born in KwaNdebele, Mpumalanga, and she now lives in Randburg. 

Where did she study? Tsholofelo Maseko graduated from Boston College with a National Diploma in Business Management.  

What else has Tsholofelo Maseko been in? She won the Presenter Search Competition for the SABC1 travel show, Seskhona. She was Zinhle in Soul CIty, Jaquie in Task Force, and she is the voice of Ndebele Zuzu & Basma on Takalani Sesame. 

Is Tsholofelo Maseko married? Possibly only on TV! 

What else to know? In 2016 Tsholofelo Maseko executive produced a documentary called Epahsini Lambhudango, about her Ndebele heritage. Her younger brother, Kayda Karabo Maseko, played Luyolo on Generations.  

Kofi Motaung 

Kofi is a politician who’s running for Premier, hoping to oust MEC Khumbane (Jeffrey Sekele). He has fingers in every proverbial pie and a network of secret alliances, from the businessmen who front for him, to loyal inkabi who do his dirty work. It’s dangerous to go digging in Kofi’s past; too much dirt can bury a person. 

Who plays Kofi Motaung in Red Ink? Themba Ndaba. 

How old is Themba Ndaba? 59. He’s a Valentine’s Day baby. 

Where is he from? Themba was born in Soweto, raised in Eswatini, matriculated from St Marks High in Mbabane, and now lives in Birchleigh in Gauteng. 

Where did Themba Ndaba study? He has a Higher National Diploma in Business Studies with a distinction in Economics and Statistics from Harare Polytechnic. He also holds a Unisa Theology Diploma in Leadership and Life Training. 

What else has he been in? Themba Ndaba is Brutus Khoza in The Queen, Mbongeni in Gomora, Pastor Simon Zikode in Redemption, and he won a SAFTA for his role in the film Hopeville. 

Is Themba Ndaba married? He was married to Sophie Ndaba (Generations’ Queen) from 1998-2007 and they have two children together, Rudo and Lwandle. He then married Sebolelo “Josey” Ndaba in 2011 and they have one child together, Sibusiso. 

What else to know? Themba launched his production company, Ndaba Pictures, in 2023, and he’s also been Managing Creative Director at Visual Republic Media for the past 14 years. He is not the Themba Ndaba of Teddy Bear Pictures! 


KK is one of those rich businessmen who’s forever throwing parties for the city’s movers and shakers. He’s a man of many connections, most of them shady. A practised charmer and seducer, he has reasons of his own for making a play for Fundi.  

Who plays KK in Red Ink? Bongile Mantsai

How old is Bongile Mantsai? 42.  

Where is Bongile from? He was born in Stellenbosch and now lives in Claremont in Cape Town. 

Where did Bongile Mantsai study? Kayamandi High School. When Bongile couldn’t study at Stellenbosch because of the university’s Afrikaans language requirements, he took a physical theatre class so he could perform in the university’s productions. Bongile is now an artistic director at Zabalaza, a Baxter Theatre Centre Development Programme.  

What else has he been in? Aside from playing Hlengu in Blood Psalms, Bongile Mantsai is a three-time SAFTA-winner for his roles in Scandal!, Knuckle City and Inxeba. He also plays Hlumelo in Gqeberha: The Empire, and MK in The Republic.  

Is Bongile Mantsai  married? Bongile is a man of mystery! 

What else to know? His father was a Bishop at the St Paul Apostolic Church, and his mom, Nokuzola Mantsai, once stood up in church and urged people not to confuse him with the villains he plays on TV! Bongile spent the past two years in Germany playing Othello as a resident artist at a theatre. He can now perform the play in isiXhosa, English and German. 


Abdul Khoza as Goliath in Red Ink

When Napoleon is moved out of solitary confinement into Gen Pop  in prison, he strikes up a relationship with Goliath. Napoleon might have been a butcher on the outside, but in the world of the prison, he’s fresh meat to the gang bosses like Snakes. Goliath has his own reasons for having Napoleon’s back, but who makes buddies with a serial killer? 

Who plays Goliath in Red Ink? Abdul Khoza

How old is Abdul Khoza? 36. 

Where is Abdul Khoza from? KwaMashu near Durban He now lives in Emalahleni in Mpumalanga. 

Where did Abdul study? After school, Abdul spent four years in the South African National Defence Force before becoming a fireman in eThekwini. He quit firefighting in 2011 to join SABC 1’s reality acting show Class Act, which he won with Tumie Ngumla. 

What else has Abdul Khoza been in? He won SAFTAs playing Qaphela in Isibaya, and Nqoba in The Wife, and he played Cija in Shaka iLembe

Is Abdul Khoza married? Abdul has been married to Baatilebasetsana Mary-Anne Themane since 2019. Find out more about their love story in Sunday Sexy Love Season 2, episode 10. They have a daughter and a son together, and Abdul has another daughter, Azamahle, from a previous relationship 

What else to know? Abdul Khoza’s older brother is Sthembiso “SK” Khoza (Shaka Khoza in The Queen).  

Stream Red Ink on Showmax now. New episodes on Tuesdays. 

Join the conversation: #RedInkShowmax 

See more 

See another side of the Moses Sithole story and women who talk to serial killers in Showmax Original Catch Me a Killer, which follows the early career of South Africa’s first real-life serial-killer profiler, Micki Pistorius. 

Red Ink, now streaming
Catch Me A Killer, now streaming