Mzansi Magic’s hit telenovela Gomora has only been on the box since March 2020 but it’s already built a huge fan following. And that’s not just for the storylines or the good-guy characters like soft-spoken teen Teddy (Sicelo Buthelezi) or strict headmaster Melusi Dlamini (Zolisa Xaluva).
Sometimes it’s the baddies we love to hate, and viewers have two annoying characters at the top of their list of instigators and troublemakers: Pretty (Siyasanga Papu), the jealous sister of lead character Thathi, and high school teacher and vice-principal Mr Ngoveni (Kabelo Ngakane), who was instrumental in getting Melusi suspended.
Do you remember these hate-them scenes from the two characters? Of course you do – you were probably sneering and throwing popcorn at your screen!
Mr Ngoveni has an attitude problem. He likes throwing his weight around and pretending that he’s the boss of the school. Like in episode 46 when he gives the students a dressing down for nothing. He stands in front of them shouting, “You will be here for detention and clean the classroom. And anyone who disobeys, I’ll be waiting at the gate for you.”
The fact that a grown man thinks it’s okay to threaten school kids is horrific. It’s enough to make you hate him, but there’s more to come. After pushing the students’ buttons, he storms out of the classroom and comes back at the very moment that headmaster Melusi punches one of the students (who’d hit him first). The smirk on Ngoveni’s face is repulsive.
But if you think that Mr Ngoveni was vile when he reported Melusi to the authorities in episode 47, wait until you see him in episode 52 – he’s positively disgusting. He sits in front of the school administrator not just throwing his former colleague and boss under the bus, but dragging headmaster Melusi down the road until his career is dead.
It’s clear exactly what he wants: to be headmaster himself. “My leadership style is a democracy,” he says excitedly. Do you hear the irony when he continues, “I like it when we work together to build something.”
Yet there he is working against the man who not only gave him a job but also encouraged him as a human. “I am not like Dlamini, a dictator. What I want is for you to let me have [the headmaster’s] seat permanently,” says Ngoveni.
Melusi must feel this betrayal like Julius Caesar when he was literally stabbed in the back by his ally, Brutus. In that exact moment, any respect you should have for Ngoveni should go out the window. He is a snivelling, cowardly little snake of a man.
Pretty has always felt second-best to her sister but she’s become worse since Thathi’s downfall. Just about every episode is littered with back-handed comments, side-eyed glances and disapproving lip-smacking as Pretty belittles Thathi under her breath.
Don’t believe us? In episode 46, she’s sitting with their mother Mam’Sonto when Thathi slinks in with her suitcase. It’s been a rough few days after Thathi accused Mam’Sonto of being involved in her husband’s fatal hijacking (which is 100% true), but Pretty is furious for what her sister has done. “Unbelievable,” she sneers as Thathi walks into the room and apologises. “‘Sorry,’ she says,” continues Pretty sarcastically, unaware that her mother really did get Mbongeni murdered.
The fact that Pretty is actively out to see Thathi’s downfall makes this sibling rivalry worse, because Pretty is using years of pent-up anger and hostility to fuel her hatred of Thathi. Her peanut-gallery commentary does nothing more than pour petrol on an already flammable situation and it makes you want to walk up and slap that look right off her face.
There is some respite, though – in episode 52, Thathi comes into their mom’s shisanyama, while Pretty is counting money at the tills. Instead of complimenting Thathi on her wardrobe, Pretty tells her, “You’d better take off those high heels – the big spenders will be expecting you to serve them.”
The sarcasm is off the charts. Pretty is downright jealous and despises her sister for getting to do things she’s worked all her life for and isn’t close to yet – like sitting in Mam’Sonto’s office chair.
The look on Pretty’s face when Thathi waves Mam’Sonto’s office keys and tells one of the staff to bring her coffee is priceless; it’s always fun seeing a troublemaker getting beaten at their own game.