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Missed the first two seasons of Isithembiso (2017-current)? Don’t worry – you can stream every episode on Showmax and watch the drama from episode 1. We’ve also got this handy quick-read to get you up to speed if you want to dive right in at Season 3, which you’ll also find on Showmax, with new episodes arriving on the platform fresh from Mzansi Magic!
Who are the players in Isithembiso?
Varsity student Simi (Nandi Mbatha) left her rural village lifestyle to study medicine in Johannesburg and she arrived with a life plan: graduate, get married to her boyfriend Zamani (Zamani Mbatha) and live in a two-storey house with two dogs. But that’s not going to happen anymore – the pair go through more ups and downs than a rollercoaster ride before breaking up in April 2019 for good after Zamani discovers that Simi has been cheating on him all along, with…
Ultra super mega bad-guy Banzi (Hamilton Dlamini). He’s a ruthless druglord family man who owns and controls the Santa Barbara student apartment complex. He’s as vile as you get, and he doesn’t bat an eyelid when he’s betrayed – he pulls a gun on you and kills you where you stand. He rapes, pillages and plunders who and what he wants, when he wants and how he wants.
“Simi is led by her emotions,” says Nandi. “Although she loves Zamani, she can’t help but want revenge on him neglecting her and hanging out with Ayanda (Kwanele Mthethwa). She needs to get back to her original plan and focus on her studies. He wants space. They need to just find themselves again before anything else happens between them in Season 3.”
Banzi’s life isn’t smooth sailing despite him being the boss. He’s large, in charge and people are terrified of him. The only person who will stand up to him is his wife Claudia (Chichi Letswalo). They too go through the ringer in Seasons 1 and 2, mostly because Banzi is still cheating on Chichi but also because her ambitions have outgrown her position as a trophy wife. She wants to be Banzi’s equal in their businesses but he wouldn’t even allow that on his deathbed.
They go from loving husband and wife who bicker to a pair of enemies who’d love nothing more than to stab the other in the back.
“Nothing is off limits,” explains Chichi. “Banzi loves his wife but then his childhood bestie Kero (Meshack Mavuso) returns as the neighbourhood hero, ready to save their community from drugs and debauchery.”
That turns the friends into frenemies – they’ll sit and have a drink together and chat about the good old days, but under the desk they’re both holding loaded guns ready to shoot each other.
PS: Just wait until you see the new-look Banzi in Season 3, leading from the church pulpit!
Risking it all
Zamani has had to deal with a lot himself thanks to Simi and Banzi. He’s lost his way at varsity after getting involved in dealing drugs for Banzi, his heart has been broken by Simi’s betrayal and life just hasn’t gone his way over the first two seasons, says Zamani the actor. “In the first season, Zamani was courageous enough to confront Banzi for all the terrible things he had done to Simi, like raping her. Zamani knows the kind of man that he is but he also knows who Banzi is. He [Banzi] would lie, cheat and steal from his own mother if it benefited his pocket. So imagine what he’d do to Zamani or Simi!”
Hit the ground running
Kero, meanwhile, just wants to clean up the world, one drug dealer at a time.
“He’s had it in for Banzi since they were teens,” explains Meshack. “They grew up together but they have taken very different paths. Banzi is the reason he was in prison – Banzi framed Kero for murder and he spent ten years locked up instead of Banzi.”
Kero spends Seasons 1 and 2 trying to get justice for himself, but also for the community who’ve fallen victim to Banzi’s world of organised crime.
“He is willing to risk his life for the greater good,” says Meshack, although he’s been around the block three or four times and knows how to survive.
Catch up on Seasons 1 and 2 by binge-watching them on Showmax, and catch brand-new episodes of Season 3 every weekday as well.
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