Ac­tress to por­tray gang­ster moll Grace Chauke

CityPress - - News - NTOMBIZODWA MAKHOBA ntombizodwa@city­press.co.za

Ac­tress Mbali Ma­phu­mulo is tak­ing on her first lead­ing role in a movie to be re­leased in March next year.

She plays Grace, the wife of no­to­ri­ous cashin-tran­sit rob­ber Collen Chauke – once the coun­try’s most wanted fugi­tive – in a movie based on Chauke’s life, called State En­emy No. 1.

Chauke died in 2003 of an undis­closed ill­ness in Kala­fong Hos­pi­tal in At­teridgeville, western Pre­to­ria, while serv­ing a 20-year prison sen­tence.

A for­mer free­dom fighter for the ANC, Chauke went rogue after the coun­try’s lib­er­a­tion. He formed a gang to ac­cu­mu­late the riches he be­lieved he de­served, after hav­ing sac­ri­ficed his youth to the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle, and mas­ter­minded a spate of mur­ders and rob­beries.

In 2001, Chauke was sen­tenced to 15 years’ im­pris­on­ment after he was found guilty of rob­bing R12.6 mil­lion from a de­pot of the SBV se­cu­rity com­pany in Pre­to­ria in October 1997.

Po­lice also sus­pected him of be­ing the mas­ter­mind be­hind 17 mur­ders and 30 cashin-tran­sit heists in which a to­tal of R82 mil­lion was stolen.

He es­caped from the max­i­mum se­cu­rity C-Max prison in Pre­to­ria, along with five other in­mates, in De­cem­ber 1997 and suc­ceeded in evad­ing po­lice cap­ture for more than a year.

He was fi­nally re­ar­rested in Jan­uary 1999, and a fur­ther five years was added to his 15-year jail term.

Ma­phu­mulo, who is mar­ried to renowned deejay and record pro­ducer Black Cof­fee, told City Press of her ex­cite­ment at be­ing in­volved in such a dra­matic story which forms part of the coun­try’s rich his­tory. “The fact that it is based on the truth is even more mind-blow­ing,” she said. She co-stars with well­known ac­tor Mduduzi Mabaso, who por­trays Chauke, and de­scribes Grace as a hard-work­ing, smart young woman who worked at the then Johannesburg Stock Ex­change (now the JSE). “She knew what she wanted in life and was fo­cused. I loved the love story be­tween her and Collen.”

How did she pre­pare for the role? By do­ing lots of re­search, she said.

“Grace now lives in Swazi­land and, un­for­tu­nately, I was un­able to meet her and learn from her, but my re­search gave me a clear pic­ture of her,” she said.

Ma­phu­mulo said what af­fected her most about Grace was the choices she made, adding that au­di­ences should guard against be­ing too judge­men­tal of the char­ac­ter.

She ad­mit­ted that there were chal­lenges she had to over­come in por­tray­ing Grace. “Play­ing a real per­son who I had never met was a chal­lenge, but one that I was happy to ac­cept.”

The film is pro­duced by Elvis Nkosi and di­rected by Zuko No­dada.

Nkosi, a self-taught writer, said he had been work­ing on the film since 2009. “I am emo­tion­ally con­nected to Collen Chauke’s story. I want to make movies that com­pel peo­ple to dis­cuss them af­ter­wards.

Ma­phu­mulo has started 2017 on a bright and busy note. In ad­di­tion to her up­com­ing role on the big screen, she fea­tures in a new TV drama se­ries, called Bro­ken Vows, play­ing Aza­nia, a wed­ding plan­ner. The show kicks off on e.tv on April 10.

STATE OF (DIS)GRACE Mduduzi Mabaso plays crime king­pin Collen Chauke and Mbali Ma­phu­mulo por­trays his wife, Grace, in next year’s re­lease of State En­emy No. 1

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