Soul City Episode Synopses

A breakdown of each episode

Episode 1

Husband and wife, Zimele and Lebo Moloi, own and run a small supermarket in Soul City called Moloi Mini-Mark. They work hard to provide a living for themselves and their two children – eighteen-year-old Bulela, an academically gifted student in Matric at Soul City High, and their daughter, Mihlali, a sensitive twelve-year-old with an inquiring mind. By all appearances the Moloi’s are a respectable, loving and caring family. But, despite his devotion to his family, Zimele indulges in sexual liaisons with other women, and for the past three months he’s been having an affair with Lulu Makhubu, a very attractive nineteen-year-old who, since leaving school, has been unable to find employment and has come to rely on Zimele for groceries and money. Lulu lives in poverty with her elderly grandmother and younger sister and leads a double life, something that only her sister, Koketso, knows about. Her boyfriend, Zakes, her best friend, Dineo, and her grandmother all believe she’s earning money doing free-lance presenting jobs for television. Dineo and Zakes are both Matric students in the same class as Bulela. But Zimele is blissfully unaware of all this as he enjoys secret sex with Lulu. Lebo also has a secret, a platonic friendship with Bulela’s maths teacher, Eddie Cele – she can talk to him in a way that she cannot do with Zimele. Eddie is secretly in love with Lebo but she never lets the attraction go beyond friendship. Eddie suggests Bulela applies for a scholarship to study in America after Matric. One Saturday morning Zakes intercepts a message on Lulu’s cell phone from a mysterious Z requesting she meet with him. Zakes deletes the message but goes to the appointed place himself and is horrified to discover that Lulu, the love of his life, is having an affair with Mr Zimele Moloi, the father of one of his classmates!

Episode 2

Lulu admits to Zakes that she’s having an affair with Zimele Moloi. Zakes is devastated and projects his anger towards the father onto the son, tackling unsuspecting Bulela to the ground during a soccer match. Bulela suffers a torn ligament, eliciting much sympathy from Dineo, who secretly fancies him. Bulela also admires Dineo, who is his intellectual equal in the class, but up until now has been too shy to approach her. Meanwhile Lebo and her close friend, Lihle Miya, have a frank discussion regarding their frustrations in the marital bed. After so many years of marriage sex has become dull and boring and both women long to re-ignite their sex lives with their husbands. Lihle decides to be pro-active and seeks advice from a sexual health counsellor at the hospital. Tefo, Lihle’s faithful and loyal husband with conservative attitudes, is taken aback by his wife’s new advances. When Lebo realises her period is two months late, she goes to Masakhane Clinic for a check-up and is amazed to learn she is pregnant! Lebo announces the news to her family. Her ambivalence is countered by Zimele’s sheer delight; despite the fact he’s just spent the evening with Lulu in the backroom of the shop. Zakes arrives at the Moloi’s house later that night in a foul mood. Is he, is he not, going to confront Zimele?

Episode 3

Instead of exposing Zimele as an adulterer in front of his family, Zakes apologises to Bulela for hurting him. Bulela graciously accepts the apology and offers to help Zakes with his maths. Thus begins an unusual connection between the two. Lebo cannot balance the books at the shops – money and goods seem to be unaccounted for. Zimele dismisses it. Mihlali observes her family closely as she researches a school project on Gender and Age Roles within the Family, highlighting issues regarding gender inequality. Lebo visits Eddie and tells him of her pregnancy. Eddie, unable to hide his feelings any longer, declares his love for Lebo. Although she cherishes her time with Eddie, Lebo decides it would be better if they didn’t see each other again. Eddie is heartbroken but Lebo remains adamant. Lulu tells Zakes that she may have a job and her affair with Zimele is over. She promises to never see Zimele again and begs Zakes to forgive her. The two are quickly reconciled and once again in love. The next day Lulu learns she did not get the job after all. Zimele hosts his regular Friday braai in the backyard of the shop. Sol, Tefo, Jabu and Theki are present as usual; but this week Lebo and Lihle join the men. Discussion revolves around men’s talk versus women’s talk and the underlying tension between Zimele and Lebo is apparent.
Lebo goes to the clinic for a routine HIV test, recommended for all pregnant women. She is not particularly worried.

Episode 4

Lebo tests positive. She goes through a whole range of emotions – disbelief, fear, anger. She vents her anger at Zimele, accusing him of cheating on her and infecting her with the virus. Zimele initially denies everything and retaliates by accusing Lebo of being unfaithful. But Lebo is sure of the truth. In the meantime Bulela and Dineo are making tentative steps towards getting to know each other better. Lulu arrives home to discover her grandmother, Hlengiwe, has collapsed and is need of urgent medical attention. Lulu has neither airtime in her cell phone nor money for a taxi; she desperately turns to her neighbours but none of them can offer help. With no other choice, she runs to Moloi Mini-Mark to ask Zimele to take her Gogo to hospital. Although it’s difficult, Zimele agrees, telling Lebo he’s going for a drink with his buddy, Theki. Lebo is flabbergasted that he should go out drinking when she’s just received such devastating news. After taking Gogo to the hospital, where she’s diagnosed with having suffered a minor stroke, Zimele drives Lulu home but cannot bring himself to tell her about Lebo’s status and the implications that it has for both of them. Zimele can’t face Lebo and instead goes to a bar where he bumps into Theki, who’s always on the look-out for women and sex, and two women, Beauty and Noluthando, who’s an old fling of Zimele’s. She flirts with Zimele, reminding him of old times. Suddenly Zimele sees the sordid reality and leaves. At home Zimele lies to Lebo saying he’s only been unfaithful once – he was drunk and had sex with a woman he met in a shebeen. He begs Lebo to forgive him, insisting he’s been a good husband and father. Lebo remains angry. She will not forgive so easily.

Episode 5

Lulu spends the day desperately looking for work in the city. With no food in the house and her gogo due to be discharged from hospital, Lulu goes to see Zimele. Zimele wants to end their affair and Lulu leaves the shop in tears, not knowing where to turn.

Episode 6

With only men present at their regular Friday braai at the back of the Mini-Mark, Tefo raises the tricky topic of sex with one’s spouse, something that’s been troubling him ever since Lihle broached the subject. After jokes and jibes, Sol leads a serious discussion on the importance of sexual satisfaction for both husband and wife within a marriage as well as the dangers of infidelity. Meanwhile, at Lihle’s house, Lebo and Lihle are also talking about sex; and at the Moloi home, Bulela and Dineo decide the time is right to make love for the first time! Because they are both virgins and because Dineo, anticipating this moment, is on the Pill, they do not use condoms. Unexpectedly, Lulu receives a call from a production house asking her to audition for a job as a presenter on a TV Magazine programme. Lulu believes this could be her big break! But she is nervous and the audition goes badly; to make matters worse the producer makes sexual overtures and Lulu becomes enraged that all men seem to treat her as a sexual object. Desperate and furious, Lulu enters Moloi Mini-Mark demanding a week’s groceries and some money from Zimele. He is indignant and refuses. When Lulu threatens to show Bulela the sexy sms from his father on her cell phone, Zimele realises he’s compromised and gives her money. As Lulu leaves, Zimele suddenly remembers Mihlali in the backroom – his daughter has overheard everything! Zimele makes Mihlali promise to keep the secret, a burden that will weigh heavily on the little girl.

Episode 7

Zimele finally plucks up courage to go to Sol for an HIV test and counseling. At school Bulela and Dineo only have eyes for each other. She invites him to a party at Mandla’s house. Burdened by the knowledge her father’s secret affair, Mihlali becomes increasingly withdrawn. Lulu sells her favourite clothes to a street hawker to get money for groceries. To discourage Bulela’s friendship with Dineo, Zimele forbids him to go to the party, insisting he stay home and study. Bulela cannot get hold of Dineo to explain and she is disappointed and upset when he apparently stands her up. Zimele tells Lebo that he tested positive. Lebo is pleased and suggests he informs the woman he slept with so she doesn’t spread the virus further. Later Zimele phones Lulu, who is also at Mandla’s party, and demands to see her straight away. At first Lulu puts him off but, sensing his desperation, agrees and leaves the party to meet him. Zakes, who has overheard Lulu talking to Zimele on the phone, is devastated. He tells Dineo what happened and storms out of the party in a reckless and dangerous mood. Worried about what he may do, Dineo goes after him. Zimele discloses his status to Lulu and her world shatters as she realises the implications for herself and Zakes. Meanwhile Dineo arrives at Zakes’ house to find him drinking. The two console each other and Dineo, who normally never drinks, also has some brandy. As the night progresses the two become increasingly friendly and uninhibited. They start kissing and one thing leads to another…

Episode 8

Dineo is shocked when she awakens in the middle of the night to find Zakes sleeping next to her! Mortified, she silently sneaks out of the house and heads home. Lihle’s attempt to initiate early morning sex with Tefo fails. Whilst Zimele is feeling relief at having tested and disclosed, Lulu is so distressed she can barely get out of bed. Consumed by guilt and remorse, Dineo avoids all calls from both Zakes and Bulela, and does not go to school on Monday. Lulu goes to Masakhane Clinic with the intention of testing but she spots a notice advertising a job for a canteen assistant and, on the spur-of-the-moment, decides to apply. The interview goes well and she postpones the test. Tefo overcomes his embarrassment and seeks advice from Sol on how to revitalize his and Lihle’s sex life. Lebo goes to the clinic to find out about the prevention of mother to child transmission. She is introduced to Nozi Moloto, who will be her mentor in the mothers2mothers programme, and she begins to feel more hopeful about the future. Lulu’s spirits lift when the clinic inform her she has the job.
Zakes goes to Dineo’s house but she refuses to see him. On opposite sides of a closed door, they agree to never tell anyone they slept together. The next day at school Bulela tries to make things up with Dineo but she fobs him off. Much to Lihle’s surprise and delight, Tefo arranges a romantic evening. Zakes confronts Lulu, demanding to know if she has feelings for Zimele. She divulges that Zimele is HIV+ and then admits to lying about using condoms with him. Zakes is horrified as he realises he too could be infected

Episode 9

There is great excitement when Zimele and Lebo receive a letter informing them Bulela is short-listed for the study scholarship to America and that the selection committee will soon be visiting their home to interview Bulela and meet the family. Bulela tells Dineo his good news and begs her to meet him. She hesitates and, once again, Bulela apologises for missing the party. The two meet and, slowly, they re-connect. Dineo is determined to avoid any discussion with Zakes regarding their night together and so Zakes’ vague warnings that she and Bulela should practice safe sex go unheard. Zakes seeks Lulu out at her new job in the clinic canteen, suggesting they test together. Lulu is relieved and agrees. Bulela and Dineo get together to do science homework. Bulela is keen to resume their sexual relationship and it’s not long before Dineo’s resistance and guilty conscience crumble. As before, they do not use a condom. Zakes and Lulu go to Sol for pre-test counseling and an HIV test. As feared, Lulu is positive but Zakes’ result is negative. Zakes’ relief is short-lived, however, as Sol warns he could be in the window period and must return in 6 weeks for another test. Lebo asks Mihlali to choose biscuits from the shop for the interview with the selection committee. When noting down the expensive biscuits in the black book Lebo notices that Zimele has marked down these biscuits before. Zimele insists he gave them to the guys but Lebo’s suspicions mount when she notices other unusual items noted in the book. Zimele rebuffs her questioning and Lebo and Mihlali head home to prepare for the interview. On the way Mihlali reveals the secret that has been plaguing her for weeks – Dad gave the grocery items in the book to a woman called Lulu! The interview goes well. Lebo contains her anger until the guests leave and then confronts Zimele, who admits he had a girlfriend called Lulu and that he lied about the one-night stand. Once again Lebo feels betrayed.

 

Episode 10

Lulu is struggling to come to terms with her status and Sol encourages her to attend the HIV support group meeting at the clinic. Eddie sms’s Lebo asking her to meet him but she declines. Zimele goes out to play pool with Theki but Theki is more interested in chatting up women. Zimele broaches the subject of HIV and asks if Theki uses condoms when sleeping with other women. Zimele discloses his own status and alienates Theki by suggesting he should also test. Lebo arrives at the HIV support group meeting late and, unseen, listens to Lulu telling how she became infected by an older married man. Realising that this is Zimele’s ‘Lulu’, Lebo confronts Lulu after the meeting and lands up almost feeling sorry for her. Lebo’s anger towards Zimele intensifies. At school Eddie gives Bulela a letter informing him that he has been awarded the American scholarship. Ecstatic, Bulela uses Eddie’s cell phone to call Lebo. Zimele suspicions are aroused when he answers the call and sees Eddie’s name on Lebo’s phone but this is quickly forgotten in the excitement of the good news. Uncertain whether to tell Dineo about the possibility that he’s HIV positive, Zakes discusses the matter hypothetically with Eddie, who advises him to inform the girl of the risk before she exposes others to the virus. Zakes goes to Dineo and tells her everything. Dineo is hugely upset but they decide that until Zakes knows his status for sure, she shouldn’t say anything to Bulela. Meanwhile the Moloi’s celebrate Bulela’s scholarship. Later Zimele questions Lebo about having Eddie’s number in her cell phone. At first Lebo dismisses it but then admits she and Eddie are friends. Zimele surreptitiously checks Lebo’s sms folder and then accuses her of having an affair with Eddie. As the argument escalates, Mihlali overhears Zimele suggesting Eddie is responsible for infecting them both with HIV!

Episode 11

Having found out secretly that both her parents are HIV+, Mihlali is worried about her future and steals money whenever the opportunity arises. Dineo avoids sexual contact with Bulela, saying they need to focus on their studies for now. Zimele sets about organising Bulela’s documentation for America – university and passport applications and the medical appointment. Feeling happier, Zimele invites the guys and their wives over for a Friday evening braai. When Theki’s wife, Miriam, who has been unwell for a long time, comes into the shop, Zimele boldly suggests she should have an HIV test. Miriam is highly offended. Later Theki, who’s been drinking, barges into the braai, furious over Zimele’s interference in his marriage. When Tefo points out that Zimele’s concern is justified because Theki’s forever boasting about his sexual exploits, Theki announces to everyone that Zimele is HIV+. Lebo discloses they both are. The events of the evening motivate Tefo to approach the principal of the High School to set up a Men’s Only Meeting to discuss issues such as the spread of HIV through multiple concurrent partnerships. Lulu discloses her status to Dineo, who inadvertently lets slip that Zakes had already told her. Lulu is angry with Zakes and, eventually, Dineo, sick of the lies and deceit, tells Lulu about the night she and Zakes had sex. This is a huge blow for Lulu and she tells them both to leave. Later in the night, Zakes, angry and frustrated, hurls a rock through the window of Moloi Mini-Mark. When Lebo does the banking, she discovers money is missing from the safe. She suspects Zimele of having a new girlfriend but he vehemently denies it. Later Lebo is shocked to discover the missing money in Mihlali’s room! When questioned, Mihlali reveals she knows they have HIV and is terrified she will be a penniless Aids orphan. Lebo and Zimele try to reassure her that they are both still healthy and will continue to look after her. They decide to also tell Bulela, who is shocked and disappointed at his parents’ apparent double-standards. The two siblings comfort each other.

Episode 12

Zimele and Lebo call in the police when their shop window is smashed for a second time. Tefo delivers flyers to the shop advertising the Men’s Only Meeting. Zimele receives a call from the doctor’s rooms requesting Bulela comes for a follow-up appointment.
After informing Bulela first, the doctor tells Zimele and Lebo that Bulela is HIV+ and therefore no longer eligible for the scholarship because America does on grant visas to anyone who has HIV. They are all shattered. That night, angry and alone, Bulela roams the streets of Soul City until Zimele eventually finds him and takes him home. Lebo turns to Sol for counseling as she battles to come to terms with this latest crushing blow to her family. After bunking out of school, Bulela breaks the news to Dineo, wanting to know why she lied about being a virgin because, clearly, she is also HIV+. Dineo breaks down, telling Bulela the truth about Zakes and the night of the party. Feeling hurt and betrayed, Bulela turns his back on Dineo. Eddie, realising that something has gone wrong, reaches out to Lebo but she cannot disclose Bulela’s status. Lulu is sympathetic when Dineo tells her she too is HIV+ and the two friends reconcile.
Miriam dies suddenly after contracting pneumonia and Zimele puts aside his recent differences with Theki to offer support. Bulela physically attacks Zakes, wrestling him to the ground and accusing him of destroying his and Dineo’s lives. A neighbour stops the fight. Zakes realises what’s happened and insinuates Bulela is unaware of the whole story.

Episode 13

Everyone is gathered together for Miriam’s funeral. Theki is heartbroken and remorseful. Mihlali has a counseling session with Sol to gain greater understanding about HIV and to allay her fears of becoming an Aids orphan. Sensing that something is troubling her, Dineo’s father convinces her to confide in him and she discloses she’s HIV+. Eddie is concerned when Bulela and Dineo both perform badly in a maths test. Despite his efforts to impress on them what’s at stake, the two remain sullen and silent. Afterwards, however, they get together and realise they still mean a lot to each other. Bulela finds out from Dineo that the source of the virus is not Zakes, as he presumed, but Lulu’s mysterious sugar daddy! Zimele reaches out to Lebo and it seems at last they are moving towards a more loving relationship. Mihlali is delighted to see her parents being affectionate. The Men’s Only Meeting is well attended, much to Tefo’s relief, and Sol leads a lively debate about the dangers of indulging in multiple concurrent partnerships. Lulu visits Zakes to ask if he wants to get back together again. Zakes is ecstatic and tells Lulu he’s been going crazy without her – he’s even smashed windows at the Moloi’s shop. Lulu thinks he should apologise to Zimele but Zakes disagrees because of all the harm Zimele’s caused. Lulu has a new-found confidence and is determined to make the best of things. Later, Zakes does apologise to Zimele. Meanwhile Mihlali mentions to Bulela that she saw their parents kissing and believes Mom has forgiven Dad for giving away groceries. Bulela is curious and Mihlali tells him about the conversation she overheard between Dad and a girl called Lulu. The realisation that Zimele, his own father, is Lulu’s sugar daddy hits Bulela like a bolt of lightning!

Enraged, Bulela accuses Zimele of having an affair and endangering the family. As Bulela unravels the path of the virus, Zimele realises to his horror that he is ultimately responsible for infecting his beloved son.

Epilogue - Four months later - Lebo gives birth to a healthy HIV negative baby; Lulu is training to become a pastry chef; Zakes is at a soccer academy; Dineo is studying architecture in the UK and Bulela is at Wits Medical School.