Saturday, 22 May on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161) at 19:00
Saturday, 22 May on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161) at 19:00

Vote now to give your favourite DStv telenovela or soap that SAFTA!


South Africa’s most popular soap/telenovela will be decided by public vote at this year’s SAFTAS – and here’s a tiny reminder of why 2020 was an epic year on screen

The 15th annual South African Film & Television Awards (SAFTAs) is the ceremony’s “against all odds”-celebration – and not just for the event organisers. Programmes eligible for voting had to be on air between between 1 November 2019 and 31 December 2020. For most local productions, that meant juggling lockdowns, intense COVID-19 quarantine rules, and navigating a changed world that made production harder every step of the way. Even a simple kiss became a logistical nightmare.

“We have been working under very difficult and unpredictable circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that did not deter our people from delivering world-class work in the different genres we offer. Congratulations to all the SAFTA nominees, whom we are excited to celebrate on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161)  on 22 of May at 19:00. Let us remain relentless in taking African stories to the world,” says Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice Group CEO – General Entertainment and Connected Video.

See all DStv’s SAFTA nominees Watch Mzansi Magic

Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161) is available on DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus and DStv Compact. To get DStv or to upgrade your package, click here

You be the judge – Vote now!

As has become SAFTA tradition, 2 awards will be decided by public vote: Best TV Presenter and Most Popular Soap/Telenovela. The star of the night, of course, is the Most Popular Soap award. It’s time to raise your voice before voting closes on Wednesday, 19 May at 21:00.

To vote, dial *120*32020# and select the number corresponding to your favourite soap or telenovela:

This year’s eligible DStv soaps & telenovelas are:

2: Arendsvlei (Penguin Films) – kykNET (DStv channel 144)
3: Binnelanders (Stark Films) – kykNET (DStv channel 144)
5: Getroud Met Rugby (Overberg Produksies) – kykNET (DStv channel 144)
6: Gomora (Seriti Films) – Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161)
8: Isibaya (The Bomb Shelter Film Company) – Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161)
9: Isono (Clive Morris Productions) – BET Africa (DStv channel 129)
10: Legacy (Tshedza Pictures) – M-Net (DStv channel 101)
15: Suidooster (Suidooster Films) – kykNET (DStv channel 144)
16: The Queen (Ferguson Films) – Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161)
17: The River (Tshedza Pictures) – 1Magic (DStv channel 103)

We chatted to some of the production teams, and they gave us a little reminder of the incredible stories that each of these soaps/telenovelas told between November 2019 and December 2020:

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2: Arendsvlei

Arendsvlei is a family drama focussed on the lives of the students, parents and teachers at Arendsvlei High School on the Cape Flats. The story is told from the point of view of the Cupido family, who founded and now run the school and are determined to make a difference in the lives of the young people in their community.

What storyline or moment would you like voters to keep in mind?

Monique’s storyline dealt with universal themes and relatable topics such as abuse, abortion, toxic relationships, manipulation and the effect that our foundational relationships, like that of a mother and son, have on future relationships. We received so many comments from viewers. I think this storyline opened up the conversation again, and viewers grappled with this topic that is so foreign to our communities.

What storyline had the most reaction from viewers? 

  • Steve’s murder shocked the Arendsvlei community in 2020. Steve was released from prison and really tried to turn his life around, but unfortunately was pulled back into the dark side when he planned a heist with Wendy. I think the notion of second chances resonated with our viewers. And then to see it being ripped away from Steve, really reminded them of the cruel world we are living in. We also saw impeccable acting from Crystal Donna Roberts in this storyline as Steve played her character’s brother.
  • And the gender-based violence storyline. A learner at Arendsvlei High was shot and killed by a gangster. Monique Ross was in a relationship with Bompie Galant and decided to end things due to his violent behaviour. Bompie couldn’t deal with the rejection and killed Monique. So many viewers opened up about their stories, from mothers and daughters, to fathers and sons. This storyline created a sense of community in our viewers, because they saw themselves in it. It once again started the GBV conversation in our communities and viewers still to this day refer back to it.

What was your most deliciously devious Wendy moment?

When she killed Steve, her lifelong lover, and when she tried to kill her daughter, Debra, and father, Pieter.

Which character grew the most?

It has to be Beatrice. Viewers got used to Beatrice being on top of it all and handling everyone’s problems. And then all of a sudden, it came crashing down in late 2020. Viewers were both shocked and saddened by this. Beatrice is someone they can look up to and aspire to be, which is why it had such a big impact when she became one of us – a normal woman who has it all together one day, and struggles the next day. Beatrice took a moment to focus on her mental health and put herself first. After trying to be everyone’s saviour except her own, it took a single swift moment to realise that she needs to become her own saviour. After this ordeal, she came back stronger than ever!

What was the moment or storyline that truly tested Beatrice and Ronel’s friendship?

Probably over the double wedding. The two friends couldn’t agree on anything and to top it all off, Hamilton left Beatrice a day before the wedding, so Ronel was left with a big decision (on whether to continue with her own wedding, which she did).

How does it feel to be nominated for the Most Popular Soap/Telenovela Award at the 2021 SAFTAs?

It is a great feeling to know that the show is relatable to such a wide target audience and that audiences are finding the storylines and content gripping, thought-provoking and in touch with what’s happening in their communities. Our aim has always been to stay true to the show and tell the stories of its people and with the show’s popularity growing as it is, it’s an indicator that this has worked.

Watch kykNET Watch Arendsvlei


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3: Binnelanders

Binnelanders chronicles the intricate lives of the doctors, nurses and other personnel at the prestigious Pretoria-based hospital, Binneland Kliniek. From iconic hospital boss At Koster, to its theme song, ‘Jakarandastrate’, Binnelanders is our prescription for years of entertaining viewing. When Binnelanders launched into its 15th season in June 2020, they tackled the tale of a deadly virus outbreak… a story their team had written back in 2019! “We did not incorporate the COVID-19 pandemic into our story at all. Since we plan stories months in advance of broadcast, our story about a mysterious flu epidemic was conceived, written and recorded before COVID-19 hit the world. We were as astonished and surprised as everyone else when our story about an epidemic coincided with a real-life pandemic,” admits the Binnelanders team.

Which storylines or moments would you like voters to keep in mind?

  • The beauty of the wedding when Louis and Naomi said their “I do’s”
  • The mysterious flu epidemic that broke out
  • Nagskof burning down when Alice tried to take revenge on Louis
  • Sergio de Freitas’s puzzling link to Okkie, dating back to the bush war in Angola
  • The upheaval of Chanel’s molar pregnancy, and conservative dad Brandon’s take on the situation
  • Faf Gosslin making his appearance with evil intent
  • Orphans Vicky and Ruan coming to live with their aunt Elana and Steve
  • How the shenanigans of Annelize Roux’s fake half-brother affected her
  • Loving couple Hugo and Julia Vos’s heartache when Julia had to undergo a double mastectomy
  • The rollercoaster of emotions that Christmas brings
  • The celebration of 2020’s year-end, with the characters hoping for a prosperous and happy future for all in 2021

Tell us about a criminal character who had a huge impact on the world of Binneland?

By infiltrating and hacking the hospital’s database, with no qualms about endangering patients’ lives, Faf Gosslin stabbed his old friend, At Koster, in the back in a cruel and unforgiving manner. And in her efforts to take revenge on Louis Koster, Alice tied up Naomi in Nagskof and then set fire to the place. This led to powerful on-screen moments with devastating consequences.

How does it feel to be nominated for the Most Popular Soap/Telenovela Award at the 2021 SAFTAs?

What an honour! The nomination attests to what can be achieved by a dedicated team who never waver in going the extra mile to achieve a shared goal: To present Binnelanders viewers with the best possible viewing experience.

Watch kykNET Watch Binnelanders


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5: Getroud Met Rugby

Since 2009, Getroud has followed the star players of a Johannesburg-based rugby team The Stryders, and their drama on and off the field with their WAGS (Wives and girlfriends of sport stars).

What storyline or moment would you like voters to keep in mind?

  • The “Slut Walk” in which all the Stryders’ wives and girlfriends stood up against Woman Abuse
  • Reitz and Amanda’s wedding (a stunningly glamorous and romantic occasion that filled us all with envy while weddings in SA were mostly still in lockdown)
  • Lienkie shaving off her hair in the salon

What storyline had the most reaction from viewers? 

The storyline where Lienkie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and made a miraculous recovery on Christmas Day.

Which character has grown the most and which storyline helped them to grow? 

Kristien’s character has grown the most. She decided to divorce Bart and leave for Australia. She started to stand up against Bart and his scaly business deals. She decided to walk the straight and narrow path. She changed from a full-on nasty villain and accomplice of Bart, to a softer, more “real” and compassionate person. Yet she stands her ground in business and in life. Kristien changed from a very hated protagonist to a likable person.

What moment sold it to you when we saw Kristien and Bart turn over a new leaf? 

The moment where Bart promised Kristien to never get involved in illegal business dealings again, because he’d do anything to win back her love.

What response did you get from breaking up Renate and Simon’s marriage last year? 

The viewers’ response was rather mixed. Some said that both characters are better off alone and without each other, while others were furious because the couple, in their opinion, did not try hard enough to save their marriage.

How does it feel to be nominated for the Most Popular Soap/Telenovela Award at the 2021 SAFTAs? 

To be nominated in this category really is a great honour and privilege. Especially because there are many wonderful soaps and telenovelas viewers can choose from.

Watch kykNET Watch Getroud Met Rugby


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6: Gomora

A newcomer to SA’s soapie scene, telenovela Gomora launched in March 2020 just in time for lockdown! The story sees rich glamourous Sandton trophy wife Thathi forced to return to her gang lord mother Mam’Sonto’s home in Alexandra Township following her corrupt husband’s murder during a hijacking gone wrong – committed by her mother’s gang. The series pits Thathi’s family values against those of the man she left behind – the honest, upstanding school principal Melusi, who’s working to uplift his whole community.

Episode 1 set the tone with 2 very different worlds: one set in the posh palace-sized mansions in Sandton, the other in the cluttered busy lives of normal people living their best lives in the kasi. Socialite Thathi’s world collapsed when her bank-owning businessman hubby, Mbongeni, was murdered in a hijacking and she discovered that they were bankrupt. That’s the same surprise her gangster mom, Mam’Sonto, got when Thathi and her teens, Buhle and Langa, moved into her home in Alexandra township. Spare a thought for hardworking headmaster Melusi – he’s trying to foster Teddy, whose mom Zodwa is the local alcoholic, while his own son, Ntokozo, is rebelling… and is secretly a murderer. Thathi’s new life got even messier when her jealous sister, Beauty, demanded the keys to the family business, but the real drama story came when Melusi punched a rebellious student and watched his career go down in flames.

Watch Mzansi Magic Watch Gomora


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8: Isibaya

Viewers said goodbye to telenovela Isibaya in April 2021, but the final season of this drama, centred on the blood feuds and rival taxi businesses between the Zungu and Ndlovu families, did not go quietly!

Beloved late actor Menzi Ngubane had countless stand-out moments as master of disguise Judas Ngwenya (remember him as “Judith” or when he tricked his way into the Zungu homestead while disguised as a helpless old man?). But none were more charged than when his own son and former right-hand man, Qaphela, shot him dead in hospital in March 2020 in a tragic echo of the 2019 scene in which Qaphela held a gun to Judas’s head, only for the 2 to tearfully reconcile.

We also saw Phumelele come into her own, find her voice, and divorce her polygamist husband, Mpiyakhe, and she rekindled her romance with her past fling and hotshot lawyer Fenyang. The moment she left all the Zungus’ drama behind her to run her own business, she caught fire, making waves as an influencer.

Remember the excitement when sangoma Sunday Nkabinde returned in November 2020 to make trouble for the Zungus under orders from Samson Ndlovu? Under Nkabinde’s influence, Mpiyakhe Zungu’s demonic zombie alter ego, Mgijima, made his own son Alex ill, since he conceived Alex while he was in his zombie form. Mgijimi also abducted Mpiyakhe’s son, Melusi, in November and tried to turn him into a zombie, but when Samson unexpectedly gained a conscience, he stopped the sangoma from continuing with the process, and they gave Melusi muti to erase the entire ordeal from his memory.

Watch Mzansi Magic


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9: Isono

New telenovela Isono snuck in just under the wire to get into this year’s SAFTAs when it launched at the end of September 2020, and wasted no time getting dramatic. Goody two shoes church lady Mary Ndlovu showed herself to be a devil in a Sunday hat, as she stocked her gang with children from her House of Grace, for at-risk youth, and terrorised the East Rand as mysterious crime boss “Vorster”.

What storyline or moment would you like voters to keep in mind?

Gabriel’s character journey. He is a complex character. Much of Gabriel’s weapons-grade fixer, buttoned-down, good-man-in-a-tight corner persona comes from his attempts to deal with his conflict around accepting himself. No matter what he has done, viewers continue to empathise with him. From chopping up a body, trying to save pastor Duma from himself, fighting who he is leading to him being unable to truly pursue a relationship with Abednego and constantly having to be the monster his mother created. The juxtaposition of him being an efficient criminal and his true good-natured spirit.

What storyline had the most reaction from viewers?

  • Gabriel killing Millicent’s father left our viewers conflicted. Msizi was abusive towards Mam Lili, but he was also a loose end that needed to be tied up. This was a great moral dilemma for Gabriel. He regards Mam Lili as a mother and he flat out told Mary he would never do it. But he did. We saw just how deeply affected Mam Lili was. Then in true Gabriel fashion, he couldn’t bear to see Mam Lili not finding closure and he dug up the body so she could bury her partner.
  • Millicent also had a lot of people issuing warning signs about looking for better friends because of how she tried to get with Makwande. Millicent was really despised at the beginning of the show and is now someone who is really loved and people see that she is a good friend who is flawed.

What was the big moment between Gabriel and Abednego that had you think wow, we really have something here? 

We introduced them as both hyper masculine and not emotionally expressive men, but then revealed just how deep the emotions run between the pair. So, their first intimate scene was special because it showed just how much passion, chemistry and love is shared between the 2 of them. No matter how much they try to fight it, they are always drawn to each other. So, scenes in episode 22 and 23.

What was the most shocking thing that Mary did, or that we found out about her?

That she would sleep with Abednego to create a wedge between him and Gabriel. Mary’s biggest fear is losing Gabriel. So, there are no lengths that she wouldn’t go to in an attempt to ensure that she is the most important person to him. She can’t release him from her hold.

What moment between Jumima and Mary did you find especially enjoyable and why?

It must be them going to the orphanage and letting the viewer finally understand the secret that they share. We also revealed parts of their shared childhood trauma. Jumima has the ability to show Mary the truth and make her somewhat accountable for her actions.

Jumima is struggling to cope with her mental illness. Which moment triggered her disorder and how she bounced back?

Her receiving the burnt doll really shook her to the core. We have a long-running mystery that someone is blackmailing Mary and leaving messages for Jumima as well. Jumima was adamant that they are being punished for the fire Mary started at the orphanage. She then asked Mary to take her back home to Harrismith to lay the troubled spirits to rest. She left House of Grace fragile, paranoid and on edge, but came back settled having gone home to pay her respects and lay the spirits to rest by burning imphepho and asking for forgiveness.

Which moment tested Gabriel’s loyalty for his mother, Mary?

Finding out that his mom slept with the love of his life, Abednego, and still having to swallow that to try save Abednego’s life in prison. It seemed like a point of no return for him at first, but he still came back to save Mary from Mannie and be the best clean-up guy. He came home when Mary called him when Mary had a gun to her head, proving that Gabriel is selfless and continues to put everyone else’s needs above his own.

Which moment led to Gabriel finally standing his ground and leaving Mary’s gang?

He never really leaves. Even when he starts dating Ayo and turns his back on everyone, he still goes back to bust everyone out of trouble. Mary manipulates him emotionally to come back and help with the drug business when things get out of control. The death of Lindiwe, the young woman who died from a drug overdose, did momentarily have him walk away to distance himself from the drug operation.

How does it feel to be nominated for a 2021 SAFTA?

It is a privilege and an honour to recognised by one’s peers. We set out to create an authentic daily drama like no other for an African audience. We have seen it land in ways that excites us and show us that there is an appetite for a show like Isono. It is edgier and grittier than the average telenovela, so this is an affirmation that our efforts were well received.

Watch BET Watch Isono


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10: Legacy

M-Net’s “lifestyles of the rich & shameless” telenovela Legacy, which launched in September 2020, centres on the knives-out backstabbing battles between members of the billionaire Price family after their patriarch and head of the family business is murdered. Legacy is flashy and fancy on the outside, but deep down it’s hiding dark secrets around every corner in its posh northern-suburb mansions and high-rise buildings in Sandton. The secrets have been coming out since episode 1 in September 2020 when Felicity and her chauffeur secret lover, Stefan, murdered her businessman dad, Sebastian. No matter how different the families are, they’re all seemingly having difficult times – the Prices are feuding for control of billions of rands in business deals, while ordinary folk like the Potgieters are struggling with bad luck in everything from romance to earning an income. Don’t be fooled by flashy businessmen like Msizi, either – the sharper the suit on Legacy, the deeper their knives are going into their colleagues’ backs, especially when they know a dirty secret that is perfect blackmail material…

What storyline or moment would you like voters to keep in mind?

The inciting incident where Felicity attempts to kill her father.

Which betrayal was your favourite?

When John was blackmailing Felicity with what he knew about Sebastian’s death, and he was always 1 step ahead of her.

Which character have viewers connected to most on social media?

Dineo Price; her character is delicate and honest and that is what most viewers relate to. The storyline where she was arrested for her husband’s murder, with which she had nothing to do with to begin with, is what tied her to the audience. They sympathised with her and they continue to do so.

Which moment made Petra realise that the world was an uglier place than she believed?

The 2 kidnappings that she experienced. It put things into perspective for her and showed her that the world isn’t so kind, that she needs to fend for herself.

When did Willem hit rock bottom as an alcoholic and decide to turn his life around?

When his old friend from the military, Andy, committed suicide, Willem went into a dark place mourning his friend.

How does it feel to be nominated for the Most Popular Soap/Telenovela Award at the 2021 SAFTAs?

It is such an honour. We have worked very hard with everyone involved, and it is affirming to know that Mzansi is supporting the show and enjoying it.

Watch M-Net Watch Legacy


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15: Suidooster

Western Cape-based soap Suidooster hinges on the doings of 3 main families – the Octobers, the Samsodiens and the Du Plooys – connected by their businesses in a small shopping centre in the fictional community of Ruiterbosch. The series aired its 1,000th episode in April 2020.

What storyline or moment would you like voters to keep in mind?

Just after AB and Farah’s relationship collapses (AB took Farah as his second wife in a hugely controversial polygamy story that wrecked his relationship with first wife Mymoena), there is a scene where Mymoena is still in a state of depression and AB tries to comfort her by singing her a song… It is a beautiful and heart-warming scene.

What storyline had the most reaction from viewers?

Definitely the polygamy storyline, which centred around AB taking a second wife, Farah.

Which scene from this storyline rocked your world?

Definitely the wedding itself!

The departure of Jerome and Ian October hit viewers hard. What scene in the run-up to their exits do you think they really knocked it out of the park on?

For Jerome, it was when he suddenly collapsed a few days after his car accident, which left Mymoena in a coma. At first it appeared that Jerome was fine, and then all of a sudden, he had heart failure due to internal injuries of which he was unaware. Obviously with Ian, it was when Bridgette pushed him down the stairs, which shocked everyone and is a classic soapie moment.

Which character rocked the world of Suidooster for you?

Farah’s presence in Ruiterbosch and her marriage to AB raised eyebrows as it tested (and almost ended) the relationship of one of the soap’s most beloved couples, AB and Mymoena. If it was 1 character’s show, it would have been Mymoena. Not only is she very relatable for viewers, her trials and tribulations over the years have been central in many of Suidooster’s storylines, making her a household name. Her character has the potential to become legendary on the South African television scene – also for being the first Muslim lead character in a local soap.

How does it feel to be nominated for the Most Popular Soap/Telenovela Award at the 2021 SAFTAs?

Of course, being nominated is always an honour, and we are grateful to be in the company of several other productions. However, whether we win this category or not, Suidooster is blessed to have amazing support among our viewers and we’ll continue to tell relevant stories that entertain, engage, inspire and educate them.

Watch kykNET Watch Suidooster


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16: The Queen

Telenovela The Queen centres on the Khoza family, who keep up appearances in society while financing their dazzling lives with dirty money from their drug business. Harriet Khoza has taken over the criminal empire with both hands, and she’s made countless compromising decisions to keep her money and power. But she’s not the only woman out there trying to run a crime empire.

There was major drama when a hit was put out on Harriet and while she was at a meeting with her business associates, her rival, Jerry Maake, took the bullet and died at the crime scene. At Jerry’s funeral, Harriet’s daughter, Kea, returned from her trip but that too ended in tragedy when her black BMW went boom, sending her mother into a frenzy of grief. Turns out the hit was sent by corrupt cop Hector, who was on a mission to steal the Thembisa drug ring from the Khozas.

Kagiso couldn’t shake off his nightmares that his brother, Shaka, who he accidentally strangled to death, had returned from the grave. His nightmare became a reality because Shaka was indeed back and hungry for vengeance. He tortured his “killers”, Kagiso and Dingane. Shaka’s return was a night of sheer drama when he interrupted Kagiso and Dingaan trying to dig up his grave – only to have Harriet and Brutus crash the party. Shaka’s return was the spinning kick to the face that we didn’t know we needed.

Vuyiswa had a traumatic and tortured 2020. Not only did she become a widow and was blamed for her husband’s death, she also suffered a traumatic sexual assault while trying to mend her heart. The storyline exposed what rape survivors go through after the fact and The Queen took its time to give us a beautifully acted emotional arc.

It wasn’t all seriousness and backstabbing. In 2020, The Queen brought in 1 of SA’s very own queens on media, Kuli Roberts, to play cougar on the prowl Mildred Sefatsa, and a good time was had by all. And if irreverent and gossipy housekeeper Patronella’s “I’m not a maid, I’m a house executive” claims and efforts to stop the Sebata daughters from behaving like messy little piglets didn’t already have you in stitches, Noma and Brutus’s unexpected romance kept things sweet and light-hearted.

Watch Mzansi Magic Watch The Queen


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17: The River

The River tells the story of ruthless, cunning Khanyisa Diamonds mine owner Lindiwe Dlamini-Dikana, how she betrayed the poor Refilwe township community to become rich at their expense, and the lengths that she’ll go to to protect her wealth and, ironically, her family. The tighter Lindiwe clings to power, though, the more she destroys the things that she believes she is protecting.

After Tumi learnt that Lindiwe tried to kill her husband, Lindani, she fiddled with Lindiwe’s car brakes, but it wasn’t Lindiwe who eventually drove the car in January 2020. It was Tumi’s half-sister, Mbali, who lost control of the car and died, which caused a ripple effect and a divide in the Dikana family (we’ll never forget the terrified phonecall between the sisters as Tumi begged Mbali to get out of the car). Nothing remains a secret in the world of The River and after Lindiwe learnt that Tumi was indeed behind Mbali’s death, 1 of the year’s most memorable moments was when Lindiwe seemingly became the bigger person and forgave Tumi, only to turn around and kill her to protect her sinful past. Viewers were divided as they watched a weeping Lindiwe wrestle with her emotions and herself. Lindiwe remains the villainous character that fans love to hate.

That wasn’t the last of the disorder in the Dlamini-Dikana mansion as Andile’s wedding plans were ruined when he discovered that his fiancé, Njabulo, was cheating with Mondli. Knowing that her son couldn’t cope with the heartbreak, Lindiwe swept in and threatened to ruin Mondli’s life if he didn’t skip town, leaving Andile and Njabulo to mend their relationship.

We also saw Kedibone find love, only to lose it again when her boyfriend, Nsizwa, lost his battle to cancer. We cried for days over the scene where Kedibone and Nsizwa settled in for a nap together after discussing all their sweet plans and dreams for the future, only for Nsizwa never to wake up again.

And from career criminal Cobra stepping up and becoming a father to his long-lost teen son, Morena, to Zolani reuniting with his dodgy babymama, Emma, and welcoming their baby girl – The River’s actors shone throughout 2020!

Watch 1Magic Watch The River


Watch The 15th SAFTA Awards on Saturday, 22 May on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161) at 19:00

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