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By Bonginkosi Tiwane

Digital Journalist

Actor Josias Dos Moleele reflects on the passing of Intombi Yomzulu Marietjie Bothma

Marietjie Bothma, who captured the hearts of South Africans by speaking fluent isiZulu, has passed away after a short illness.

Intombi Yomzulu as she was affectionately known, Marietjie Bothma, passed away earlier this week and tributes have poured in for the entertainer.

Renowned actor Josias Dos Moleele, who worked with Bothma on a number of projects including theatre play – Call Us Crazy, reminisced on their friendship in an interview with The Citizen.

“Initially [when I met her] I thought here comes another one [a white person who speaks an African language] but she was actually good. She was speaking better Zulu than me,” said Moleele.

“She was a bundle of joy. She would say that I speak better Afrikaans than her.”

Bothma broke-into the industry when she featured in a pie advert, speaking fluent isiZulu and also spoke at the inauguration of Jacob Zuma.

Moleele says he last saw Bothma two months ago. “We always talked. She used to complain about her tooth and that it was starting to affect her brain,” shares Moleele.

Bothma died at Kopanong Hospital in Vereeniging after suffering a short illness. She was 40 years old.

Call them crazy: A poster of a play Moleele and Bothma worked on. Picture Josia Dos Moleele Twitter

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Dark side of the arts

Due to sparse working opportunities in the entertainment and arts industry that left Bothma in a tight financial spot, she moved to Tembisa to live with fellow artist, Vocal Tee.

“She was struggling a bit and had to move to Tembisa. People don’t open up in the industry about their struggles, it’s like we must put on this facade that everything is okay,” says Moleele.

“This is an industry where today you are here and tomorrow nowhere. It’s difficult when you don’t have a stable income,” says Moleele who is a part-time lecturer at TUT. He met Bothma years ago through one of his students, Semakaleng Moeketsi who is popularly known as the Rich Aunt.

At the height of the Covid pandemic the Moleele and Bothma started an initiative to help fellow struggling artists during that time.

“We started the Underdog as a way of raising funds for artists because government funds weren’t coming through.”

The actor says one of Bothma’s strengths was her incessant passion for the arts. “I met her in the Vaal where she was running an art space to develop young artists.”

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Bothma’s loyalty

“Loyalty was a big thing to Marietjie. Whenever there was something, she would call me. She invited me to a prison where we went to speak with the prisoners; we were there with the likes of DJ Sbu.”

Moleele’s relationship with Bothma was like that of siblings, sometimes as an older brother he would chastise her for some of the things she did.

“At rehearsals, we use to fight about the smoking when she complained about her tooth. I would tell her it’s because of the smoking. I remember these types of things. As a brother, I knew about the abusive boyfriend and some her struggles. I knew everything. She was an open book.”

A few years ago Bothma opened up about being in an abusive relationship. She was an ambassador for the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.

Speaking to the Daily Sun in 2016, the entertainer said “I think what is sad is that even when women get out of abusive relationships; the abuse can carry on for years after”.

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