Orange is the New Black – SA style – in’s Scan­dal. Ilse Van He­mert, the se­ries pro­ducer, sheds light on the gen­e­sis of this who­dunit story arc, why the soap took a risky gam­ble by putting sev­eral of their char­ac­ters be­hind bars and why the ac­tors are

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TO DATE, prison sto­ry­lines in soaps haven’t worked. Mostly be­cause with only one vil­lain be­hind bars, there are too many lim­i­ta­tions.

But’s Scan­dal have bro­ken the curse, so to speak.

Se­ries pro­ducer Ilse Van He­mert, renowned for her inim­itable imag­i­na­tion, shares, “It started off with the idea that view­ers, not that they re­alise what they ask­ing for, have been, with re­search con­ducted year-in and year-out, have been out­raged by the fact that vil­lains get away with mur­der. Although they love their vil­lains, there is some­thing in their sense of jus­tice, that would not ac­cept that the hero al­ways ends up look­ing use­less. Deep down, it stops peo­ple be­liev­ing in jus­tice. We didn’t want to sell despair. We wanted to sell hope. We re­alised, in this soap, we can bring the vil­lains to book be­cause we have so many of them. And they can form an en­tire world.”

And that’s ex­actly what they did, with the inside and outer worlds of­ten col­lid­ing.

“It was quite a risky decision,” she agrees. “But we wanted take the plunge. No other soap or te­len­ov­ela is do­ing this… We wanted some­thing dis­tinc­tive. And there are so many scan­dals that can hap­pen inside prison.”

On the three Ny­athi fam­ily mem­bers in prison: Lu­cas, his son Mangi and Shakira, she ex­plains, “We ex­plored the sins of the fa­ther phi­los­o­phy. Mangi has al­ways said that he can’t es­cape his fam­ily. We thought if we took him through the process of jus­tice, he can re­deem him­self. We also felt that prison would not be in­ter­est­ing if it was only filled with bad guys.”

That said, it also made Lu­cas more vul­ner­a­ble as he had to worry about not only his own life. And that vul­ner­a­bil­ity pro­vided the writ­ers with much lat­i­tude.

That’s not for­get­ting crim­i­nal linch­pin Neo’s strained re­la­tion­ship with Lerumo Chabedi.

Van He­mert says that they killed Mo­fo­keng …but it is an open-ended exit in case his sched­ule frees up in the fu­ture.

While they are keep­ing a tight lid on the real killer, all will be re­vealed on De­cem­ber 3 when the viewer com­pe­ti­tion closes.


#1 Lu­cas Ny­athi: He has a num­ber of as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempts on his life, which were or­ches­trated by Neo.

#2 Mangi Ny­athi: He has even more rea­son. Neo got him hooked on drugs, was re­spon­si­ble for Ruby’s death and has been on an un­end­ing ven­detta kill his fa­ther.

#3 Shakira Ny­athi: She was forced to se­duce the war­den to get hold of a phone which was in his pos­ses­sion. Neo’s hench­men have also been hold­ing Abi­gail’s death over her. #4 Oliver More: Un­der­mined by Neo, he is also en­raged that Lerumo is be­ing groomed as the new heir to his drug em­pire.

#5 Dust­bin Man: He feels be­trayed by Neo and wasn’t happy when Neo took Lerumo un­der his wing in the prison.

#6 Mjo­mane: He found out that Neo knew that Lerumo was an un­der­cover cop and in­stead of killing him, he told him to get out of the prison, which is not taken lightly in the prison world.

Scan­dal airs on on week­days at 8pm.


JAIL­BIRDS: From left, Lu­cas Ny­athi (Sello Maake ka Ncube), Mjo­mane (Kamo­gelo Bareki) and Mangi Ny­athi (Kag­iso Modupe) with Shakira Ny­athi (Dawn Matthews, above) also among the sus­pects in the mur­der of Neo Mokheti (Jerry Mo­fo­ken) in’s Scan­dal.

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