Z'bondiwe is a South African television drama series created by Paw Paw Films and set in Soweto, Gauteng, which follows the story of two lovers who are drawn into a dark underworld of gangsterism and have to answer the question of how far one is willing to go for someone close to their heart.
The series offers a glimpse into both the psychological aspects of gangster life and the emotional dynamics of two lovers who have to beat the odds to stay together.
Roxanne (Zola Nombona) is a business school graduate. Her boyfriend Ntando (Anga Makubalo) is a lawyer and when he gets an offer at the biggest law firm in Johannesburg, Roxanne is less than pleased to leave Cape Town for Jozi.
Soon her darkest secret is revealed: her ex-lover is Killer (Mbulelo Grootboom), the leader of the most notorious gang in Jo'burg - The Vutha Boys. Killer is obsessed with Roxanne and kidnaps her as soon as she arrives.
Now, Ntando is forced to join a rival gang, the Mambas, to try and save the love of his life.
Z'bondiwe was created and produced by Paw Paw Films and directed by Mandilakhe Yengo and Greg Heimann. In the first season the storyline was by Kaye Ann Williams, Amanda Lane and Tristram Atkins and the script was written by Lane. The executive producer for e.tv was Brian Letlhabane.
In Season 2 the head storyliner was Margaret Goldsmid, with storyliners Peter Goldsmid, Tristram Atkins, Thea Small and Kelly Powell; and writers Bongi Ndaba and Shirley Johnston. The executive producer for e.tv in Season 2 was Ndabenhle Buthelezi.
Anga Makubalo plays Ntando Mabatha
Ntando Mabatha 25, articulate, well educated, farm boy. He is hard working and very intelligent. When we meet Ntando his life seems charmed. He intends to marry the love of his life, Roxanne and he is embarking on his career as a lawyer.
Their lives seem golden until Roxanne is kidnapped and Ntando finds himself having to fight to rescue Roxanne in the dangerous township of Soweto.
Zola Nombona plays Rozanne Nozulu
Mafungwashe 'Roxanne' Nozulu, 23, is an intelligent, beautiful woman who made a mistake as a teenager that has come back to haunt her. She has been in hiding for the last five years and has even resorted to renaming herself 'Roxanne'. She has to deal with her past in order to move on with her life with Ntando.
Mbulelo Grootboom plays Killer Nxasana
Ntlonipho 'Killer' Nxasana, 33, violent, merciless, Jekyll and Hyde character. Killer Nxasana is finally ruling Soweto and his ambitious plans will enrich him and make him an evil force to contend with, however, the one thing he wants, he cannot have – Roxanne.
When he hears that she is back in town he decides to take what is his.
Bongani Maseko plays Axe Ngcobo
Mbazo 'Axe' Ngcobo, 27, is the impulsive leader of The Mambas gang. The Mambas used to be stronger and more powerful than the Vutha Boys but since Killer Nxasana became their leader, the Mambas started losing business fast.
Their biggest blow came when Killer started his garbage collection business giving them greater access to untouched areas and tripling their profits. Since then Axe has been plotting his revenge against Killer.
Axe wants The Mambas to rule Soweto again and eliminate his competition – Killer Nxasana.
Eve Rasimeni plays Dikeledi
Dikeledi 'Dikki' Bakopa, 18, is a hard, unflinching woman who has had to fight her way through life to survive it. She falls in love with Axe Ngcobo and is fiercely devoted to him.
Dikki is a lioness, a true hunter, unafraid and brutal. She shares Axe's philosophy of violence and enforces it easily when needed.
Mpho Sebeng plays Lebo
Lebo Ngcobo, 17, a troubled, dark young man whose horrific actions leads to his death.Lebo is the younger brother of Axe and Jackson's youngest son. Axe has been parenting Lebo since his father left for KZN.
Axe is not the best role model and has never had firm hand on Lebo who is getting into trouble with the law when we meet him (something Ntando uses to get into Axe's good books. He helps get Lebo out of a juvenile centre and into a rehabilitation programme).
Israel Makoe plays Jakes
Jakes Masilo (30) is Killer's right hand man. He is cold, ruthless and dangerous. Killer relies on him heavily and Jakes is the ultimate professional, always following his boss' orders.
Jakes is in charge of the 'dealers', who are the guys who sell drugs via their legitimate garbage collection service. He recruits and organises them, making sure they don't get hooked on the drugs and that they bring in the entire sum of monies owed. If they dare cross him, they pay with their limbs or their lives.
He is also in charge of the group of three thugs that terrorise the shop keepers so that Killer can then extract protection money to protect the shopkeepers from these thugs.
ADDED IN SEASON 2
Tango Ncetezo plays Nomonde
Nomonde is traditionally married to Killer. She goes from a rural woman with very little power to a woman co-running a crime syndicate. She is obsessed with getting rid of Roxanne, as she blames Roxanne for the fact that Killer abandoned his family.
Thabang Matlala plays Andile
Andile is a 17-year-old boy who resides in a rural village. He used to live at the orphanage where his 14-year-old brother stays. The orphanage is managed by Killer's traditional wife Nomonde, but he grew tired of their rules and ran away, making his own way by petty theft. He eventually gets offered a lot of money for a crime that goes wrong.
Charmaine Mtinta plays Thembi
Thembi is Nomonde's older sister and has always been the voice of reason. She watched with concern as her sister became attracted to the "bad boys" and ended up marrying into the notorious gang, the Vutha Boys. Thembi went through her own period of hardship when her husband beat her and eventually abandoned her. She desperately desired to have children of her own, but had several miscarriages. Her struggle birthed in her a desire to run an orphanage and look after children who need love and affection.
ADDED IN SEASON 3
Peter Se-Puma plays Melusi Shenge
Melusi grew up in the streets as a thug, establishing the Vutha Boys before handing the reins over to his surrogate son - Killer. When the Vutha Boys disintegrated, Melusi lost his ties to the gang world, but continues to commit crimes of a different kind through his business as a property developer.
When we meet him, he is in a tight corner - there is a crackdown on corruption in the industry and many of his comrades have seen their end. He needs money – and fast. When Killer returns to him on his knees, he sees an opportunity to re-enter the drug trade industry and rake in some cash.
Paballo Moganedi plays Yandisa Mdoda
Yandisa, a 26-year-old attorney, is the only daughter to wealthy businessman Melusi Shenge. She takes over Ntswaki's position at the new firm. She hires Ntando again as she is impressed with his knowledge of the criminal underworld.
Shamilla Miller plays Hilda Miller
Hilda joined the South African Army in the hope of studying through a government grant after completing her service. After an altercation, she is expelled from the program and stripped of all her achievements.
When Hilda returns home, embittered and hardened by the humiliation, she makes use of her military skills in the world of crime as a resourceful hitman - killing becomes her income and her outlet.
Khumbulani Khuzwayo plays Myekeni
Myekeni is an inkobi in the KZN taxi business, but he has become weary of playing the 'assassin' - he wants power and status. He is the older brother to Axe and always wanted to have what Axe and Lebo had - a life in the city and an upgrade to his fortunes.
Myekeni would fantasise about a life in the gang world - he saw himself take over the Mambas from his father, but when he died, the baton was handed to Axe instead. He heads over to the city to revamp the Mambas.