Isibaya accused of stealing cows
Meet the Ngwenyas. (Photo: Supplied)
Six furious farmers have threatened an indefinite protest after accusing Mzansi Magic’s most watched telenovela, Isibaya, of stealing their cows, sheep and goats.
The farmers from Gauteng, who claim they recognised their stolen livestock on TV, are now demanding the show be shut down and pay them R1.4 million for the animals.
Last year, the farmers went to Isibaya producers Bomb Shelter Productions about their allegedly stolen 54 sheep, 90 goats and 94 cattle which they claim were filmed for the show. Last month, they protested outside the studios.
But on Thursday, they conducted a sit-in at the company’s Randburg offices, leaving crew believing they were being held hostage and the police were called.
Farmer Chris Mabunda says he became suspicious in October 2014 when he noticed his livestock numbers dwindling.
One night while watching Isibaya he says he spotted his goat and called the police. Then while driving home one afternoon, he claims he saw a white kombi and red bakkie leave his farm with livestock on the back. The registration details, he alleged, led him to the show’s producers.
Nondumiso Mabece, Mzansi Magic’s head of public relations, declined to comment.
Angus Gibson, co-owner of Bomb Shelter productions, told City Press he advised the farmers that without proof or incriminating evidence, they were unable to act on any claims.
On Thursday, City Press spoke with anxious crew members who felt threatened by the farmers.
“They came in and occupied the office of Angus and refused to leave,” said one.
Gibson said: “The farmers arrived without an appointment. We sat down to discuss their grievances, but they had no further evidence. When we reached an impasse, they refused to leave our premises and we had to call the police.”
However, Mabunda said on Friday:
“We waited for him in the conference room where we were welcomed... We were so shocked when we saw police and ADT security demand that we leave as we were trespassing,” said the former teacher.
“He [Angus] said that we should wait for him until he was done with his meeting, so his calling the police on us was very sneaky.”
The farmers say they want a written agreement with Bomb Shelter about how the matter will be resolved, and they have decided to protest until they are heard.
Mabunda says he opened three cases of stock theft last year.
A production insider said Gibson was sympathetic, but could not accede to their demands and a stalemate ensued after which the farmers refused to budge.
The crew said Isibaya had not filmed with cows for some time after having their own stolen last year.
“We do not purchase livestock, but instead took a decision to hire livestock when needed for filming from local farmers, thereby supporting them,” Gibson said.