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 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 soap Bro­ken Vows as Zandile’s mother. Here she is in her de­but episode along­side ac­tress Nam­bitha BenMazwi, who plays Lulu.

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