Winnie Ntshaba opens up on lessons from her past
Actress Winnie Ntshaba opens up about life lessons, why she still believes in marriage and why her mom is her rock
SHE looks as if she hasn’t aged a day since she last graced our screens. And it’s no surprise she’s still called Khethiwe even though she said goodbye to the beloved Generations character three years ago. Mzansi just can’t let go of Khethiwe. “People still call me Khethiwe when they stop me in the street,” Bawinile “Winnie” Ntshaba says with a laugh.
“We’ve been through a lot, Khethiwe and I. She appeared on the scene as a naive girl with absolutely no pretence and people loved that about her.”
Even though she’s had cameo appearances on Mzansi Magic’s Isibaya and The Road, the legal drama series Sokhulu & Partners on SABC1 and Shuga on MTV, she still resonates with Khethiwe.
“I relate to this side of her, coming from rural Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal. I believe in Ubuntu and doing onto others as you’d like done unto you. I come from a humble family and if I had to put on airs and graces my family would laugh at me!”
Fans are still coming to terms with Khethiwe’s sudden disappearance from their screens. In 2014 Winnie, along with 15 other cast members, was fired from the popular SABC1 soap because of a wage dispute.
But Winnie has some newfound perspective on the past. “Maybe we overreacted there. We all had our own dressing rooms – we were treated like stars. I had been there for 10 years and I became comfortable and took certain things for granted.
“I’ve realised the way things are done elsewhere is totally different. I’ve done outside shoots and it’s rough out there. But everything happens for a reason and I needed to evolve, to adjust and to learn how others are doing it.”
SHE’S accustomed to making headlines but recent ones haven’t been good. Winnie was linked to businessman Nico Matlala – but Winnie refutes any relationship.
The so-called Ben 10 and self-proclaimed millionaire claims to
have bedded the actress. “He said he slept with me at his house and he has proof in the form of videos,” she says angrily. “My lawyers are on it. I never slept with him. How does it happen that someone sleeps with you without your knowledge?” She considers Nico’s statements slanderous and says the experience has taught her a valuable lesson. “I’m naive. I would never think people can scheme and plan evil against others. “My older sister asked me, ‘How many times are you going to embrace scorpions? A scorpion is a scorpion and it’s going to bite you!’ I’ve always received people at face value, but I’ve realised that as much as I’m trusting, I should be aware that not everyone is a friend.” She’s happily single, Winnie says. And despite a failed marriage, she still believes in marriage. “My mother and father are still married. I believe once I say let’s do this (marriage) it’s going to be for keeps this time. But I have to be sure because no one’s perfect and both parties must be committed.” She was committed to her ex-husband, SABC cameraman Thabo Modise, but the marriage ended four years ago because “the timing was just wrong”. “I’m wiser, I know better, and I know how to better handle things. Maybe we should have waited until I was 40,” says Wi nn i e , who turned 42 on 1 September. She says nothing major happened between her and Thabo – they just grew apart. “We were together for four years before we got married. We were married for seven years but in the fourth year things started to fall apart.” They hung on for years, she admits, but eventually they had to face the fact that their marriage was over. “We are best friends now. He’s in a loving space and so is our son, Phenyo (8).”
They co-parent so Thabo takes Phenyo every alternate weekend and every alternate week during school holidays.
FAMILY means the world to Winnie, so she was devastated when her mother, Bongekile (76), took ill recently. “My mother’s heart isn’t working properly. It produced water in the lungs and the heart and lungs were swimming in water. The trauma of almost losing her brought us closer as a family,” Winnie explains.
She was frantic when her father, Zwelakhe (81), called her in a panic after Bongekile, who is diabetic, had trouble breathing one night. Bongekile lost consciousness in the car while they were taking her to the hospital to have her checked out.
“I was in Durban at the time, and they were in Eshowe [two hours away]. I couldn’t get to them fast enough,” Winnie says.
She called her pastor and asked him to call her dad and pray for her mom. “I was later told that when the pastor started praying, my mom woke up. I think God saw we weren’t ready to lose her. We never experienced death at home before and we were all going crazy. “She’s everything to us.” When she later arrived at the hospital, Winnie and her family thanked her mom for all she’s done for them. “You tell her your problems and she comes up with a solution. As her children, we decided in hospital not to tell her our problems anymore because we’ve been putting heavy loads on her.”
She’s praying her mom recovers fully because no matter how old she is, she confesses she still needs her.
Meanwhile on the work front she’s also busy. Winnie plays Funeka Ndlovu on the e.tv soap Broken Vows.
Funeka is a sophisticated woman whose hubby is cheating, but she’s not frazzled by it. She’s staying for the comfort and money – something Winnie says she’s not capable of doing.
She encourages entrepreneurship in women so they can be financially independent.
She’s thrilled by the work she’s doing as an ambassador for a dishwashing brand – they’re currently running a competition with a free sewing or catering course up for grabs. “The winner can use the skills she’ll learn to start her own business,” Winnie beams. She’s also relaunching the Royalty Soapie Awards, which she founded in 2013. “We’ve only had two awards ceremonies since the launch. We had to take a break, but we’re coming back.
Winnie hopes to revive the awards next year. “People have been asking about it and we’ve had to take stock of certain things like adopting a corporate social investment element that speaks to the community,” she explains.
She’s geared up for anything coming her way, it seems. And just like Khethiwe she’ll do it without airs and graces.
‘ Everything happens for a reason and I needed to evolve’
LEFT: Winnie Ntshaba recently joined e.tv soap Broken Vows as Zandile’s mother. Here she is in her debut episode alongside actress Nambitha BenMazwi, who plays Lulu.