Sifiso signs out
Rhythm City says goodbye to Dumi Masilela and his character.
“This was risky! Writing in someone’s death hasn’t been done before on local screens but we had to do it to honour his life,” says Rhythm City’s creative director Eric Mogale. While it was a shock for audiences when Dumi Masilela, who plays Sifiso, died following a hijacking on Thursday 3 August, the producers continued to air Dumi’s scenes as normal. “We had a meeting with his family the day after his death to find out how we would write him out of the storyline. But they didn’t want his work to go to waste so we worked with all the scenes he had shot months ago,” explains Eric. Together with the Masilela family, the soapie agreed to air Dumi’s final scene on Wednesday 11 October where Sifiso dies in a tragic hijacking. “Viewers won’t see the incident, but they will definitely feel it like we did on set. It’s going to move them,” adds Eric.
The writers had to figure a way around Sifiso’s current love-triangle storyline with besties Mampho and Reneilwe (Itumeleng Bokaba and Amo Chidi). “The storylines had to change. It took three days to plan it out and make it work,” explains Eric. Although Rhythm City want to shine a light on hijacking to let viewers know the effects of the crime, it wasn’t easy filming it. “We shoot months in advance, so we had to reshuffle everything to suit the new storyline,” explains Eric. But working on this plotline wasn’t just another day at the office – “It was a way to get closure too. We’re letting go of someone who is part of our family and that’s hard to process,” says the creative director.
As a mark of respect, Dumi’s real family were invited to the soapie memorial for Sifiso that airs on Wednesday 18 October. His mother Sabatha and brother Thabani joined the cast and “they volunteered to be part of the moment. The cast played out their emotions onscreen and it felt like everyone was healing,” says Eric. The soapie didn’t hold back tears and Eric adds that it was a chance for Dumi’s friends to bid him farewell. “It’s like a reality show within a soapie. We all wanted to commemorate Dumi the way he deserve to be remembered.”
Both Sifiso the character and Dumi the actor have been laid to rest by Rhythm City.