Radio Story

Our story begins in a thriving mechanics workshop known as Sedibeng Motors. The success of Sedibeng motors is due to the hard work of its owners Sam Nkosi and Pitso Modise, both of them well respected in their community and with a strong sense of social responsibility.

Now due to the non-payment of a local taxi warlord, Bazooka, Sedibeng motors is in financial difficulties. Pitso is a bachelor, but for Sam his business is to provide for his family and extended family and its difficulties are source of great stress and worry for him.

Sam and Pitso understand that getting their money out of Bazooka will be a delicate process as Bazooka lives as a law unto his own with a small band of armed thugs to help him defend it. When Bazooka goes to Sam's very home and terrorizes his wife, Maria and small son, Pumlani, Sam and Pitso decide to report the matter to the village chief.

While sympathetic to their cause the local chief is also powerless to intervene in the nefarious activities of Bazooka. Sam and Pitso also talk with a young newly married police officer Thami, who is also unable to intervene. As Bazooka still refuses to part with the money he owes Sedibeng motors, the business slides further and further into debt.

It is in this context of his failing business that Sam beats his wife Maria. Ever since she married Sam, Maria has been beaten but now the beatings are becoming more frequent and more severe. Maria has tried speaking with her mother in law, Rebecca and her father, Meshak about this continued abuse but both seem to feel it is a cross she must bear and advise her to be a better wife to Sam. The violence at home is also affecting Maria's son Pumlani who has nightmares, wets his bed and suffers from poor concentration at school.

Maria's fear, silence and isolation in her marriage are somewhat alleviated in that she has become involved in a play using the kids in the village to raise funds for the church. This involvement has strengthened Maria's friendship with the daughter of the local reverend, Lulu and the two women have a lot of fun together organizing the kids and planning their pageant. They are also assisted by the beautiful Palesa, a neighbour to the Nkosi's and a young woman with a mind of her own.

Maria is eventually persuaded to confide in Lulu and Palesa about the violence committed on her by her husband. Lulu particularly is deeply concerned about Maria's situation and she begins a long process of supporting Maria and educating her around the legislation that exists to protect her and her rights as a woman. Lulu also mobilises the support of her father the reverend and Sam's partner Pitso both of whom believe violence against women is wrong and both of whom try to speak with Sam - to no effect: Sam continues to beat Maria, Pumlani continues to do badly at school, and Sedibeng motors continues to make a loss.

It is not just the physical abuse that makes Maria's life such a nightmare, Sam is also emotionally abusive, and tight with the purse strings making Maria live in a narrow world where she is afraid to do anything without Sam's prior consent. By this time Maria's worries about the future are exacerbated by the fact that she is pregnant. After a particularly severe beating for which Maria has to visit the local clinic she also decides to lay a charge against Sam. In laying the charge, Maria finds unexpected sympathy and support in Thami, the young police officer. Sam is scared when approached by the police and together with his mother Rebecca; he tries to enlist the support of the local chief. But the chief is unsympathetic to men who abuse their wives and Sam goes home to apologise to Maria, and persuade her to drop the charges.

The turning point for Maria comes on the night of the play itself when Sam beats her so badly that she cannot attend, and worse, she begins to miscarry. This information reaches the community gathered to watch the play and they all pledge to support Maria and take a stand against violence against women.

After her miscarriage Maria is so weak and depressed that she has no choice but return to her marital home. In fact, things seem to go well for a while with Sam eager to make amends. But with the final closure of Sedibeng motors looming, Sam comes home and once more cannot control his temper and starts shouting at Maria and breaking things. Palesa, living next door, picks up a pot and stands outside the Nkosi home banging it in protest against Sam's violent rage. Palesa is soon joined in making a noise by other members of the community and the message is clear that they are no longer prepared to tolerate violence against women.

The support of her community, especially from Lulu and her father the reverend who offer to shelter and feed her, finally give Maria the strength to make the decision to apply for a court protection order, under the new Domestic Violence Act and leave Sam. Sam reacts really badly to Maria's departure but he respects the law and is afraid of arrest should he violate the court protection order. Now staying in a back room of the church, Maria and Pumlani are free from fear and they begin to heal and become happy people.

Meanwhile Sam's first-born son from a previous marriage, Sizwe, is due to be released from jail. Sizwe shares a cell with Lucky, the son of the dangerous Bazooka. Sam travels to the city to collect his son from jail. On the way home Sizwe gets into a violent argument in a shop causing Sam to reevaluate the way his violent behaviour has affected his family. Sizwe too is able to trace the source of his own aggression - he has learned through his father, that violence is acceptable. It is a turning point for him and he begins to find non-violent ways of resolving conflicts. The big challenge for Sizwe is to start a new life and he begs those close to him not to gossip about his having being in jail, especially not to tell Palesa whom Sizwe hopes to make his girlfriend.

Ever since the sour ending of her relationship with Lucky, Palesa has been reluctant to date. Rather she is determined to be financially independent and has been religiously saving the little money that she earns selling groceries outside the school. Now encouraged by her friend Portia newly married to the police officer Thami, Palesa feels ready to have a boyfriend again and Sizwe seems like the perfect candidate.

Sizwe tries to start a new life while his father Sam goes to the city to find work but nevertheless grandmother and mother Rebecca is deeply concerned about the state of her family. Rebecca decides to visit a sangoma where she gets some surprising information: her first-born son whom she thought was dead is actually alive! After forty-five years, Rebecca is understandably rocked by this news and she confides in Maria. Maria thinks that Rebecca's chances of finding her son are very small until Rebecca tells her about the distinctive birthmark on the lost child's stomach. Maria also advises Rebecca to discuss the matter with the reverend who has over his many years of service had the advice and counsel of many members of the community.

In the meantime, Maria's friend Lulu has had her blood pressure tested and it is found to be too high. She is surprised because there were no symptoms - she learns that you cannot feel high blood pressure. The only way to know you have it, is to have it measured. Lulu embarks upon a new lifestyle of healthy eating and regular exercise. Lulu has also persuaded her father the reverend to have his blood pressure tested and he too is found to have high blood pressure. The reverend however is not as diligent as Lulu in treating his high blood pressure and he soon slips into his old ways of eating fatty salty foods. Worse, he won't take his high blood pressure medicine regularly preferring to pop his pills only when he's feeling poorly.

Lulu however, moves from strength to strength: she enlists the assistance of Sam's partner Pitso in her endeavour to get fit and over their many long walks and healthy dinners together Lulu and Pitso begin to fall in love. Their romance is jeopardized when Pitso hears a rumour that Lulu's late husband died of AIDS, but this is soon resolved and the two move steadily onward to build a secure relationship based on trust and mutual respect.

Rebecca raises the issue of her lost son with the reverend who indeed heard a confession from a woman who abducted a baby forty-five years ago. The reverend is just about to give Rebecca the information she so desperately needs when he suffers a stroke due to mismanagement of his hypertension! Rebecca is in agony when the reverend's life hangs in the balance, when he is in a coma and when he cannot speak due to paralysis. She prays desperately for his recovery as her being able to find her lost son depends on it.

Meanwhile Palesa and Sizwe have been sharing dreams and secrets. Palesa tells Sizwe all about her dream to open a small bakery. Palesa has being doing some research in the area and she thinks that there is a real need for a consistent supply of fresh bread. Palesa also tells Sizwe about her savings which she believes will help her get a loan which will enable her to implement this dream.

Sizwe and Palesa are in fact deeply in love. They decide to start having sex and both of them decide to go for HIV tests. Having had unprotected sex in the past in her previous relationship with Lucky, Palesa is really nervous about taking the HIV test and her best friend Portia agrees to take a test with her for support. Portia is not worried about having HIV as she has only ever slept with her husband, Thami. Unfortunately after taking her test Palesa bumps into her old boyfriend Lucky, now released from jail, and Lucky reveals that Sizwe too was in jail. Feeling betrayed and disgusted Palesa breaks up with Sizwe.

Unknown to his wife Portia, Thami Mbhele has also taken an HIV test for insurance purposes. He can hardly believe it when he is diagnosed as HIV positive, as it has been a very long time since he had unprotected sex and he has been faithful Portia. Thami is a long distance runner and often trains with Pitso Modise. Thami confides in Pitso on their long runs together and explains his reluctance to tell Portia about his HIV status.

Almost simultaneously however, Portia too is diagnosed as HIV positive and she too is reluctant to tell Thami and confront him with what she believes must be his infidelity. The climax of the Thami and Portia's struggles to come to terms with their HIV statuses comes on the day that Palesa's bakery opens. Thami and Portia are finally honest with each other about being HIV positive. Ultimately the couple's relationship is strengthened and they plan to fight HIV and live as full lives as possible with the support of their friends and family.

Meanwhile, the reverend is still recovering from his stroke but his words are incomprehensible to Rebecca so keen to get information about her lost son. When Pitso rescues the drowning Pumlani from a swollen river, however, Maria sees the distinctive scar described by Rebecca so clearly. This is the catalyst that leads to the realisation that Pitso is in fact Rebecca's first-born son that she thought had died in a thunderstorm so many years ago.

Our story ends with Pitso and Lulu's engagement party where Sam, Pitso and Rebecca talk about the discovery of their new relationship. Sam and Maria are also reconciled (although Maria is still separate from Sam). Sizwe has managed to repair his relationship with Palesa so much so that they may start going out again. For Thami and Portia the road ahead as HIV positive people will be difficult - but they are together and they have the support of their friends. And Rebecca talks with the reverend, now fully on the road to recovery, about how she has finally found peace and peace in her family.

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