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Bullying! Intimidation! Money Matters!!! Are The Fergusons prioritising profits over the wellfare of the actors?

Writers, directors, producers… these are all important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to putting together a successful television show. But it doesn’t matter how good the folks are behind the cameras, because it will all be for naught if you don’t have the right people in front of them. That’s why having the right performer can absolutely make a show… and having the wrong one can break it just as easily.

Having the right actor or actress is an integral part of the formula for any successful television endeavor. In fact, this has proven to be so true that when that actor or actress leaves for different opportunities (or maybe to just get away from a blue, animated dog), sometimes the show just can’t go on, despite how it might try with a new star playing a new character. Here are a few major TV shows that just couldn’t recover from the loss and replacement of a major star.

The Queen Mzansi viewers were shocked when one of the show’s most loved characters, Shaka Khoza played by Sthembiso Khoza (SK) left the series. Just this year three other characters were cut from the series. These actors include: Khanya Mkangisa, Khayakazi Kula and Moshe Ndiki.

Louw was speaking as a panelist during the POWER Dialogue on “POWER Talk”  and said that in 2003 she earned R65 000 for her role in Muvhango.

“And then suddenly I’m told by Shona [Ferguson], who is a child and every other producer that ‘Your fee is too high’. Excuse me! If you want to pay me peanuts go and find a monkey. I have never received a penny of royalties,” Louw said during the discussion.

Mphuthi who played the character of princess Dipuo on “The Throne” also alleged that she was fired from the show because was being pregnant.

On Twitter the actress said she also almost lost her baby due to the stress caused by the production company. She also claims the company attempted to blacklist her.

Khanya Mkangisa, who played the role of Akhona, was allegedly fired from the show after a drunk-driving incident in May 2019. The former Selimathunzi presenter then made an appearance on The Fresh Breakfast show and told DJ Fresh about how humiliated and embarrassed she was about the incident

Another celebrity who was let go from soapie is Moshe Ndiki. The actor, who played the role of Harriet’s assistant, Prince, left the show after his contract was allegedly not renewed. Fans of the show were devastated by his departure, with many taking to Twitter to express their concerns.

Sources told Sunday World that Setumo chose to leave for similar reasons. A source said, “She was no longer happy at the soapie, especially with the treatment meted out to other actors by both the production team and the Fergusons.”

Veteran actor Sello Maake ka Ncube has spoken of his experience working with Ferguson Films joining the likes of Vatiswa Ndara, Keke Mphuthi and Mara Louw.

Fans weren’t happy when Maake, who played Kgosi in the soapie left the series. Speaking to Isolezwe, he didn’t give any details as to why he left the show, but said that the Fergusons are the only ones that can reveal the fuzzy details about his exit from the show.  Sello also said Ndara’s comments about the local film and TV industry wasn’t only aimed at the Fergusons, but the industry as a whole.

On Tuesday, actress Louw was trending on Twitter for slamming Ferguson Films claiming the blacklisting her and for refusing to compensate her accordingly.

Rami Chuene had Vatiswa’s back on social media and sources say she also often went toe-to-toe with the Fergusons on set as well. Behind the scenes, Rami often took the younger actors’ sides and was loud when it came to matters of unfair labour practises. Sources told Sunday World that Setumo chose to leave for similar reasons. A source said, “She was no longer happy at the soapie, especially with the treatment meted out to other actors by both the production team and the soapie owners.” When called for comment, Rami said, “I don’t want to comment. Don’t involve me in your drama.” Setumo and the Fergusons also refused to comment.

However some fans were quick to take to social media to voice their disappointment with the new cast and fears they wouldn’t be able to get used to them in the regal roles.

Veteran actor Vatiswa Ndara on Monday shared an open letter which she wrote to sport, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa about what she alleged was the exploitation of actors.

In the letter, Vatiswa made reference to an offer she was made by Ferguson Films, a company run and owned by seasoned actors Shona and Connie Ferguson.

Here’s what you need to know:

Grievances in the letter

From bullying and intimidation to unpleasant working conditions, the six-page letter detailed a litany of grievances. Vatiswa said a lot needs to be changed as simple privileges such as family and sick leave are ones that actors still do not enjoy.

She accused producers of subjecting actors to long working hours and prioritising profits over the wellfare of the cast and crew members.

“Actors want to be remunerated fairly. No-one wants to work towards poverty, which is the norm in this industry. When shows rake in profits, actors do not benefit from this. Actors further don’t benefit from shows on repeat, even though they should receive royalties.”

Money matters 

Vatiswa quoted an e-mail which contained an offer made by the Fergusons for the third season of Igazi. She was offered R110,000 before 25% tax for five weeks of shooting. The offer also states that Vatiswa is expected to set aside a day for make-up and wardrobe testing, which is excluded from the five weeks of shooting.

Vatiswa lamented that this amount is only a portion of what she should be getting considering the success of the show’s previous two seasons.

“Initially I was going for a cool million, minister, then dropped it to R700,000.”

She said both these proposals were rejected.

Fergusons threaten legal action

Brendan de Kooker, the lawyer for Connie and Shona Ferguson of Ferguson Films, would not be drawn into giving much detail on their plan of action but confirmed to TshisaLIVE that they are considering their legal options against Vatiswa.

“We are considering legal action against the author of the letter and we are not going to answer any further questions at this time.”

Public support 

Scores of people have since weighed in on the contents of the letter, with more actors including Pearl Thusi, Florence Masebe and Talitha Ndima opening up about the struggles they too have had to endure.



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