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Before Banzi (Hamilton Dlamini) lost most of his memory earlier this year and started preaching for a living, he was a different man on telenovela Isithembiso (stream from episode 1 on Showmax). He’d do anything for power and control. He cheated on his then-wife Claudia (Chichi Letswalo) and served time for raping his varsity student sidepiece Simi (Nandi Mbatha) in February last year. 

“But he is a changed man now,” says Hamilton, whose character seeks forgiveness for his past. While Banzi can’t recall half of the terrible deeds he’s done to his loved ones, his mom Ethel (Lillian Dube) helps him put the scattered pieces of his life together – and more.

She takes this second chance to raise her son with both hands, starting with fixing the bond between Banzi and his daughter Palesa (Nolo Seabi).

“Finding out that he has nothing, not even friends, humbles Banzi. He made a lot of bad decisions but he wants to be a better man,” adds the actor. And he’s getting a helping hand doing just that from the ladies in his life.  

The crazy ex-wife

There wouldn’t be a Banzi without Claudia. In episode 1, he was living flash, driving sportscars and living in a mansion. Claudia is as power-hungry and driven as Banzi. She’s the brains behind his nightclub and property empire. She groomed him into an entrepreneur but when the money started rolling in, he forgot about her.

She was disappointed by his lack of commitment in their marriage and when he was arrested in March 2018 for rape, she took everything from him: their houses, cars, full custody of their son Banzi Junior (Phomolo Mokulele) and all the money. 

She has humbled him and taken all his worldly possessions, letting Banzi restart his life as he came into it: with nothing.  

Love lost

He didn’t know it at the time, but much-younger Simi was what Banzi had been yearning for when they met in Season 1. Young, loyal, beautiful… unblemished and perfect.

While she wasn’t comfy dating him because he’s old enough to be her dad, he was obsessed with her. And the gifts flowed like a river during flood season. Cash, clothes, jewellery – he even offered to pay her rent.

When she turned him down, he took what he wanted by raping her, leaving her pregnant and abandoned.

“Simi gave him hope. He was at ease and at his happiest whenever they were together,” says Hamilton. While that will never happen again, Banzi has realised that he cannot behave the way he used to. And “no” means no! 

First love

When Banzi was left in a coma when Simi stabbed him and left him for dead earlier this year, his first love Lihle (Winnie Ntshaba) returned to care for him alongside his mom.

She has helped him learn to walk and talk again, but more importantly she has helped him find his faith again. “She has become the peace that he needed,” explains Hamilton. “They pray together, they talk about the bible and they reminisce about their time together. Her forgiving him for keeping their daughter Palesa from her for 20 years changed his life.” 

Stream S1-3 of Isithembiso on Showmax.

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