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11 African Highlights to Stream on Showmax Right Now

From ‘Chasing The Sun’ to ‘Legacy’

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Gomora Recap September 2020

Chasing the Sun. Die Verhaal Van Racheltjie de Beer. Unmarried. Legacy. A New Country. Famalam. Enslaved.

CHASING THE SUN | Docuseries

Two years before captain Siya Kolisi raised the Webb Ellis Cup at the 2019 Rugby World Cup final in Tokyo, South Africa lost 57-0 to New Zealand – the heaviest defeat in their history.

Chasing the Sun is the five-part docu-series of how Kolisi, coach Rassie Erasmus, and the rest of the Bokke recovered from that humiliation, transforming a team and inspiring a nation as they pulled off one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time.

SuperSport was granted unprecedented access to the Springboks both in the build-up to and during the tournament, which helped produce incredible behind-the-scenes footage that goes to the heart of what it took to defy the odds and reclaim World Cup glory.

DIE VERHAAL VAN RACHETLJIE DE BEER | Movie

South Africa’s wilderness in the 1800s: Five years after their mother died, Racheltjie and five-year-old Jamie find themselves on their way to the gold fields with their father, Herman, to start a new life. But winter is closing in fast, and when Jamie goes missing in a freak snowstorm, Rachel must brave the deadly cold to search for her little brother…

The beloved heroine of this Afrikaans folktale is brought to life by Zonika de Vries (Dis Koue Kos, Skat), who won the Young Actress award for the role at the 2019 Silwerskerm Festival. The film also took Best Actor (Stian Bam from Modder en Bloed), Production Design and Visual Effects at Silwerskermfees, the Kidseye award at this year’s Rhode Island Film Festival, and three Golden Horns – for Cinematography, Sound Design, and Original Score – at the 2020 SAFTAs.

The stellar cast includes SAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award winner Marius Weyers, Naledi Lifetime Achievement Award winner Sandra Prinsloo, and SAFTA winners Antoinette Louw (An Act of DefianceGoodbye Bafana) and Seputla Sebogodi (GenerationsThe Republic), with newcomer Johannes Jordaan as Jamie.

 The movie is directed by Matthys Boshoff (Vlees van My Vlees, Huggies’ award-winning Baby Marathon campaign), who co-wrote the script with Brett Michael Innes (Fiela se Kind, Sink).

Die Verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer was the ninth biggest local movie at the SA box office last year. As Channel24’s Leandra Engelbracht says, “The Story of Racheltjie De Beer breathes life into the fabled tale; it is a definite must-watch. Be sure to take some tissues with you.”

UNMARRIED| Drama series

Following the success of its first season and last year’s subsequent spinoff in Nigeria, this hugely popular drama series is back with a brand-new 16-episode season. Unmarried follows the lives of three young female friends living in Jozi, as they deal with the pressures of juggling marriage, motherhood, relationships, and their careers from the township to the suburbs, to the high-end apartment lifestyle of the “super blessed”.

The series stars SAFTA winner Renate Stuurman (The RiverHappiness Is a Four-Letter Word) as corporate high-flyer, Brenda; Lunathi Mampofu (The Queen, The River) as newcomer Claudia; and SAFTA and DSTV Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Award winner Thembisa Mdoda-Nxumalo (Baby MamasOur Perfect Wedding) as the shining star of the trio, Thembi.

New episodes land on Showmax every Monday at 8pm, at the same time as the Mzansi Magic broadcast.

LEGACY | Telenovela

Set in the cut-throat world of investment billionaires, Legacy follows Sebastian Price, the patriarch of a super-wealthy family, who’s fast approaching retirement… leaving the keys to the kingdom up for grabs.

The M-Net telenovela boasts a formidable cast including SAFTA winners Kgomotso Christopher (IsidingoScandal), Deon Lotz (SkoonheidMandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Siyabonga Thwala (IsibayaThe Republic), Mary-anne Barlow (The River), and Leeanda Reddy (Isidingo), as well as the iconic Michelle Botes (IsidingoBinnelanders), SAFTA nominees Don Mlangeni Nawa (Isidingo) and Dawid Minnaar (Poppie NongenaDie Wonderwerker), and rising stars Reandi Grey (7de Laan), Jay Anstey (Isidingo), Trix Vivier (Trackers), Anton David Jeftha (Strike BackHomelandSuidooster), and Sean-Marco Vorster (Alles Malan).

Legacy is the brainchild of SAFTA winners Phathu Makwarela and Gwydion Beynon, who created the International Emmy-nominated telenovela The RiverThe Republic, named Best Drama at the 2020 SAFTAs; and Gomora, recently named Most Popular Soapie at the 2020 Royalty Soapie Awards.

SAFTA winners Johnny Barbuzano (The River, The Republic, Still Breathing), Catharine Cooke (The River, The Girl from St. Agnes) and Krijay Govender (The WildGa Re Dumele) are directing.

A NEW COUNTRY | Documentary

How did we get from the euphoria of 1994 to the fractured South Africa of today?

Through forthright interviews with informal workers, politicians, academics, and artists, director Sifiso Khanyile (Uprize) traces our journey as a country over the past three decades, and looks at the state of the Rainbow Nation today.

A New Country earned a Special Mention at this year’s Jozi Film Festival, where Khanyile won Best Director.

Encounters called the documentary “heartbreakingly insightful,” adding that it shows “a contemporary society that is increasingly fractured and in which the culture of resistance and protest is as strong and vital as it was during the height of legislated apartheid.”

GOMORA | Telenovela

 Gomora recently won the public vote as Most Popular Soapie of the Year at the 2020 Royalty Soapie Awards, also taking home jury prizes for Outstanding Directing Team, Supporting Actress (Sannah Mchunu as Zodwa) and Newcomer (Sicelo Buthelezi as Teddy).

The twisty Mzansi Magic telenovela stars SAFTA winner Katlego Danke (Isidingo, Generations) as Thathi, a spoiled trophy wife whose posh Sandton life is stripped away in an instant. With no money and no job, Thathi is forced to pull her teenage kids out of their private schools and enrol them in a public school in Alexandra.

They also have to move back in with her mother, Mam’Sonto (SAFTA winner Connie Chiume from Black Panther), a woman whose strict standards and grandmotherly care for her family mask her true nature as the queen of crime in Alexandra.

The all-star cast also includes SAFTA winners Themba Ndaba (The QueenHopeville) and Zolisa Xaluva (Blood PsalmsSew The Winter To My Skin), as well as Blood & Water star Ama Qamata and Thembi Seete of Boom Shaka and Zone 14 fame, alongside fresh faces like Buthelezi, Ntobeko Sishi and Siphesihle Ndaba.

Gomora was created by executive producer Kutlwano Ditsele (The Herd) with Gwydion Beynon and Phathutshedzo Makwarela of Tshedza Pictures, who brought us the two most-awarded shows at the 2020 SAFTAs: Best Drama winner The Republic and Best Telenovela winner The River, which was also up for an International Emmy last year. Amanda Lane (Is’thunzi) is co-creator.

BACK OF THE MOON | Movie

Back of the Moon recently won Best International Narrative Feature at the Montreal International Black Film Festival, after being named Best South African Feature Film at Durban International Film Festival and Best Costume Design at the 2020 South African Film and Television Award (SAFTAs).

Sophiatown 1958: On the eve of the forced removals, gang leader Badman (SAFTA nominee Richard Lukunku from Happiness Is a Four-Letter Word) meets the gorgeous Eve Msomi (Moneoa Moshesh from Rhythm City), a torch-singer on the brink of an international career, and finds that fighting to the death becomes a whole lot harder when you have something to live for.

Back of the Moon is directed and co-written by Oscar nominee Angus Gibson (Mandela28UP South Africa), who also recently took home a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Royalty Soapie Awards. The film is produced by The Bomb Shelter (Yizo Yizo), and exec produced by William Kentridge and Anant Singh.

“I am really happy that this subtitled film about an obscure moment in South African history found a responsive audience on this North American platform,” says Angus.

SAFTA winners S’dumo Mtshali (Is’thunziIsiBayaiNumber Number), Thomas Gumede (Single GuysBay of Plenty), and Siyabonga Thwala (LegacyThe Republic) co-star.

PARABLE  | Movie

 Parable recently won Best Film at NOLA Horror Film Festival in New Orleans, named one of the world’s top 50 genre film festivals by MovieMaker Magazine.

Showmax favourite Jane De Wet (The Girl From St AgnesRage) plays Esther, a teenage girl forced into gay conversion therapy. When a famous lay preacher, Reverend Randal Day, accidentally conjures a demonic spirit while trying to ‘cure’ her, he tries to hide his mistake in a church house deep within a security complex.

The gated community is home to Kasper, a slacker with a recently tarnished reputation, who starts getting dream visits from the missing girl in the news – and she wants his help to escape…

Fleur du Cap winner Michael Richard (Still Breathing, Disgrace) was nominated as Best Actor at NOLA as Reverend Day, with SAFTA nominee Beer Adriaanse (Ekstra MediumBuurtwag) competing for Best Director.

“We shot this baby in 12 days, with a limited budget and stuck it all together with 22 litres of blood and about five tons of love and respect for the craft,” says Beer. “Dik trots.”

VULA VALA | Drama series

From multi-SAFTA winners Black Brain Pictures (Lockdown), Vula Vala is Mzansi Magic’s hit new Sunday night drama, which follows Mzi (Khanyisani Kheswa), an aspiring soccer player, who leaves Ladysmith to go work for his uncle and find a better life in Johannesburg. He finds himself playing for The Scorpions, a team owned by retired soccer star Bra Rex (Sello Maake Ka-Ncube from The RiverThe Herd, and Blood & Water), a ruthless businessman whose past life is about to catch up with him.

SAFTA winner Tina Jaxa (Gold DiggersWhile You Weren’t Looking) co-stars as Bra Rex’s wife, while Darlington Michaels (Papa G in Isidingo) plays Gab, a small-time hustler who is the first to recognise Mzi’s talent.

New episodes come to Showmax on Sunday nights after Vula Vala airs on Mzansi Magic.

FAMALAM S3 | Sketch comedy

Nigerian Gbemisola Ikumelo picked up a 2020 BAFTA nomination for her performance in Famalam, which has also earned writer-producer Akemnji Ndifornyen a BAFTA TV Craft Award and Samson Kayo nominations for Best Comedy Performance at both the BAFTAs and the Royal Television Society Awards.

Now the BBC’s hilarious sketch comedy is back for its third season. Learn how to make White People Chicken, see our favourite aunties handle their nephew coming out, and discover Nollywood’s ‘finest’. We’ll also get to check out Idris Elba’s skill set (Idris Elba can do anything!), and watch the rudest Midsomer Murders ever.

The Independent (UK) calls it “a sublime achievement of satire,” saying, “Like all the best sketch shows, Famalam is a mix of comforting recurring characters and scenes, but tweaked with a delightful and clever wit on every outing.”

ENSLAVED | Documentary series

Enslaved is a six-episode docuseries that explores 400 years of human trafficking from Africa to the New World by following the efforts of Diving with a Purpose, as they search for and locate six slave ships that went down with their human cargo.

Executive produced and featuring Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp FictionAvengers), Enslaved tracks the efforts of divers as they utilise new methods of underwater archaeology to identify and locate these sunken slave ships for the first time in history.

These modern-day adventures serve as a springboard to tell the stories of the ideology, economics and politics of slavery, while also celebrating stories of resistance, the cultures left behind and the culture that we live in.

The series also traces Jackson’s DNA back to Gabon, where he visits in the first episode to locate his own ancestors in the Benga tribe.

New episodes of Enslaved come to Showmax every Wednesday, same day as M-Net. You can binge from 25 November.

Browse The Latest Series, Movies, Reality Shows To Stream Online & Read Our Reviews, Recaps and More!

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Drama Series

7 International Series to Binge on Showmax in April (with Trailers)

The Handmaid’s Tale, The Nevers, Charmed and more

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THE NEVERS S1 | First on Showmax | Episodes 1 & 2 launch 19 April, with a new episode to follow every Monday

The Nevers is a six-part HBO fantasy series that’s been dubbed “The Magicians meets Bridgerton” by Refinery29.

In the last years of Victoria’s reign, London is beset by the Touched: people – mostly women – who suddenly manifest abnormal abilities – some charming, some disturbing.

Among them are Amalia True (Olivier Award winner Laura Donnelly from Outlander), a mysterious, quick-fisted widow, and Penance Adair (Ann Skelly from Vikings), a brilliant young inventor. They are the champions of this new underclass, making a home for the Touched, while fighting the forces of… well, pretty much all the forces – to make room for those whom history as we know it has no place.

Created and executive produced by Joss Whedon (The AvengersBuffy The Vampire Slayer), The Nevers’ ensemble cast also includes Monte-Carlo Golden Nymph nominees Olivia Williams (An EducationThe Ghost Writer) and Eleanor Tomlinson (PoldarkThe White Queen); BAFTA Cymru winner Tom Riley (Da Vinci’s Demons); BAFTA nominee James Norton (GrantchesterHappy Valley), BAFTA Scotland nominee Kiran Sawar (Black Mirror), British Independent Film Awards nominee Nick Frost (Shaun of the DeadInto The Badlands), Screen Actors Guild nominee Pip Torrens (The Crown), and three-time Emmy nominee Denis O’Hare (American GodsTrue Blood), among others.

THE HANDMAID’S TALE S4 | First on Showmax | Binge episodes 1-3 from 29 April, with a new episode to follow every Monday

The cultural phenomenon picks up where we left off, with June’s fight for freedom against Gilead. But the risks she takes bring unexpected and dangerous new challenges, and her desire for justice and revenge threaten to consume her and destroy her most cherished relationships.

Based on Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale has won 75 awards to date, including 12 Emmys and Golden Globes for Best Drama Series and Best Actress (Elisabeth Moss). The series holds an 8.4/10 score on IMDb and an average critics’ rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Emmy nominees Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski are back in their Emmy-nominated roles as Fred Waterford and Serena Joy, as are Ann Dowd, Alexis Bledel, Bradley Whitford and Samira Wiley in their Emmy-winning roles as Aunt Lydia, Emily, Commander Lawrence, and Moira respectively. Rising child star and Critics’ Choice nominee Mckenna Grace (The Haunting of Hill HouseTroop ZeroI, Tonya) joins the cast this season as the teenage wife of a much older commander.

THE VICTIM | Binge now

The Scottish thriller The Victim centres on Anna Dean, a grieving mother who finds herself on trial for attempted murder after exposing the supposed new identity and address of the man she believes murdered her son 15 years ago.

The four-part miniseries stars Golden Globe nominee and Emmy winner Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk EmpireLine of DutyGirl/Haji), who won the Best Actress Award at BAFTAs Scotland for her role.

The cast also includes BAFTA nominee John Hannah (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective AgencyAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Four Weddings and a Funeral) and James Harkness (Wild Rose).

Nominated for a 2020 BAFTA, The Victim has a 91% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus calls it “a riveting and relevant drama.”

HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON S1 | Binge from 9 April

In HBO’s new “comedy docuseries”, How To with John Wilson, it’s apparent that the filmmaker has some issues, but he’s funny, so we’ll forgive him. In fact, it’s precisely John’s refreshing take on the world that makes us want to go along with him as he explores New York and meets its colourful inhabitants, asking life’s important questions along the way, from how to put up scaffolding to how to cook the perfect risotto.

How to with John Wilson has an 8.7/10 score on IMDb and is Rotten Tomatoes’ third-highest rated docuseries of 2020, with a 100% critics’ rating. As the Rotten Tomatoes critics’ consensus puts it, “Surprising, thoughtful, and superbly strange, How to with John Wilson‘s blend of documentary styles comes together to create a singularly delightful experience.”

Or as Kathryn VanArendonk put it in Vulture, “Maybe no TV show in 2020 has surprised me as much as How to with John Wilson, a documentary/comedy/personal essay/glorious portrait of weirdos unlike anything else I’ve seen. Much of the pleasure of the show comes out of its strange sense of humour, and it absolutely benefits from a hefty dose of surprise. Wilson has this fantastic capacity to notice unusual moments in everyday life. Even better, he has this ability to present those discoveries as beautiful treasures while also making clear that they are utterly, totally ordinary.”

Recently renewed for a second season, the series is executive produced by Emmy nominee Nathan Fielder (who directed Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who Is America?), and Emmy winner and Saturday Night Live writer Michael Koman.

DIVORCE S3 | Binge now

Comedy-drama Divorce returns for its third and final season. Four-time Golden Globe winner Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City) was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her role as Frances, while the series itself received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Cinematography.

Oscar nominee Thomas Haden Church (Ned and StaceySideways) co-stars, along with Saturday Night Live alum and Emmy nominee Molly Shannon, Talia Balsam (Mad MenHomeland), and Becki Newton (Tell Me a StoryUgly BettyHow I Met Your Mother), among others. Joining the cast as the new man on the scene this season is James Lesure (Girlfriends’ Guide to DivorceGood Girls).

Season 3 has an 88% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, with the London Evening Standard saying, “Divorce… has been a sleeper hit, and that’s because it has found the magic ingredient of successful sitcoms: a plot that rings true and great comic timing.”

HIGHTOWN S1 | Binge from 23 April

Set in the beautiful but bleak Cape Cod, Hightown follows Jackie Quiñones, a hard-partying addict whose journey to sobriety is overshadowed by a murder investigation.

Created by The Mentalist and Gotham writer Rebecca Cutter, with Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rachel Morrison (Black PantherMudbound) directing, the murder mystery is executive produced by multiple-Emmy winner Jerry Bruckheimer, who’s produced everything from the CSI franchise and worldwide reality phenomenon The Amazing Race to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and Armageddon.

Already renewed for a second season, Hightown stars Teen Choice nominees Monica Raymund (Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D.’s Gabriela Dawson, and Lie to Me’s Ria Torres), James Badge Dale (The Departed, 24), and Amaury Nolasco (Prison BreakDeception). Hightown has an 80% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with numerous critics praising Monica Raymund’s stellar performance.

CHARMED S3 | Binge episodes 1-10 from 23 April 

This teen favourite reboot of the popular original series follows three sisters, Macy (Madeleine Mantock from Into the Badlands), Mel (Black Reel nominee Melonie Diaz from Fruitvale Station) and Maggie (Sarah Jeffery from Descendants) who, following the death of their mother, discover they are a powerful trio of good witches, known as The Charmed Ones. With the help of their guide, Harry Greenwood (Rupert Evans from The Man in the High Castle), a Whitelighter, the three must embrace their destiny to protect the innocent from the forces of evil.

Charmed was nominated for two 2019 Teen Choice Awards, for Choice TV Actress: Fantasy/Sci-Fi (Diaz) and Choice TV Show: Fantasy/Sci-Fi, as well as a 2019 Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Television Series. In addition, Charmed won a 2020 Leo Award for Best Production Design and child actor Isla Sunar scooped a 2020 Joey Award for Best Featured Actress in a TV Series (5-7 Years).

Browse The Latest Series, Movies, Reality Shows To Stream in SA NOW!

 

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Reality Shows

How Laconco and Ayanda are Stealing the Show on ‘RHODurban’

Main character energy

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It’s hard to believe that we are already eight episodes into the first season of the Real Housewives of Durban! It feels like just the other day when this group of upper echelon girlies brought their sparkling game to Showmax, and launched with one hell of an explosive start.

But, time goes by fast when you are having a good time. And the first season of the reality television series has honestly served up all that we hoped for and more. Almost to the point where we’re starting to think maybe the Joburg ladies need to beef up their delivery for the looming third season of the Real Housewives of Johannesburg.

Mabusi confronting Laconco about laughing at her, to her face, and then denying it, to her face also.

And while we are honestly loving the entire cast so far, we have to say Laconco and Ayanda Ncwane are totally giving us some real main character energy. We are on the floor every time they meet up for a kiki, during which they shade everyone within an inch of their life.

Ayanda brings the Queen B energy. She’s committed to upstaging the girls in every way and all the time. Whether she’s meeting Sorisha for a laid-back chat near the pool or showing up at one of the many glam events we’ve seen this season, she always makes sure to serve some over-the-top, high fashion and chic drama. It’s the reason someone on Twitter asked if she’s always dressed like she’s going to the Durban July. The drama!

Laconco has kept me in stitches throughout the season. She’s done it without even trying! She’s hilarious, and it’s made her diary confessionals such an entertaining gift on the show. She might be the shadiest in this group, but the humour the jabs come with make everything feel like cheat day with a kota and Sprite.

And together? Bingeworthy.

REAL HOUSEWIVES OF DURBAN SEASON 1 EPISODE 8 RECAP 

Laconco organized a glitzy launch for her natural beauty products and took the girls out to get some air in the KZN midlands. Though she later denied it, she totally wanted to upstage all the events the ladies have thrown this season. She’s a Queen so she sets the standard.

Then the funniest moment of the season came, leaving me entirely on the floor. Mabusi was roasted without even knowing it. When asked a little bit more about the product she sells and how they come about, her sketchy explanation sent both Laconco and Ayanda into uncontrollable bursts of laughetr.

And shame, one could tell the laughter was infectious because Sorisha and Kgomotso failed to maintain their class, and ended up laughing at what they didn’t know. No one knew what Laconco and Ayanda were laughing at, but I’d bet a Rand they aren’t feeling some of Mabusi’s stories.

 

Fortunately, Mabusi was able to grab a hot second with Laconco the following morning to find out what the hysterical laughter was all about. Laconco capped and shaya shaya’d her in the most ridiculous way. She really said ‘oh darling, me and Ayanda sometimes just laugh. At absolutely nothing, for no reason. It happens randomly’.

A whole mess! Also, I’m gonna need Mabusi to join the cast full time and replace Annie, who’s not bringing much to the show. Sorry.

The Real Housewives of Durban premieres new episodes every Friday on Showmax.

we’re fans, not critics. 

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Reality Shows

Real Housewives of Durban – The Shocking Plot Twist

I wasn’t planning to cry.

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We’d been thinking the producers of the Real Housewives of Durban had settled on the narrative of an explosive rivalry between Nonku Williams and Ayanda Ncwane.

And while the girls still aren’t filming together in group settings, almost as if there’s an agreement to keep some distance-nyana, recent scenes have made their complicated dynamic that much more interesting.

Unlike other frenemies across the franchise, this feud wouldn’t be manufactured.

It flows naturally from how their realities collide, giving producers story arcs to be explored. Nonku dropped the bomb on episode one, revealing in the presence of the girls that Ayanda’s late husband, gospel superstar Sfiso Ncwane, fathered her daughter Nothile.

Nonku Williams Real Housewives of Durban

That very moment completely set the tone for the reality show. Clearly, the girls had come to earn their cheques and give us unscripted reality, which we found to be a refreshing departure from some of the local attempts.

In the episodes prior, the tension between the two had been building up. Class acts though they are, because they are basically throwing shade, both subtle and in your face, without ratchet displays. Maybe I’ve been watching way too much Basketball Wives, but sometimes these shows make these do way too much for ratings.

Thanks to how the producers allowed the tension to build up between the two, their heartfelt moment in the new episode caught most completely off guard.

Putting their differences aside, Nonku and Ayanda made the decision to bring Nothile to commemorate her father. It’s an annual event that takes place amongst the Ncwane’s, and she had never gotten the chance.

At the graveyard, Nonku couldn’t hold back the tears. Ayanda gave her a warm hug, empathising with what she must be going through. We love that it didn’t go south. Instead, they gave us a very real and touching moment between women whose paths cross in a deeply meaningful way. When they played Sfiso’s song at the end of that scene, no eye was dry.

We are keeping an eye to see how this pans out. Real Housewives of Durban is streaming premiere episodes every Friday on Showmax.

Browse The Latest Series, Movies, Reality Shows To Stream in SA NOW!

 

 

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