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By Bonginkosi Tiwane

Digital Journalist

Film director Norman Maake on telling the hitman’s story in new movie ‘Inkabi’

Norman Maake has directed films such as 'Love Lives Here' and 'Piet's Sake'. 'Inkabi' will be available on Netflix, globally.

South Africa is gripped by violence and at the centre of it, is the hitman who does the eventual execution.

Ongoing high profile cases of the murders of AKA and Senzo Meyiwa are clear indicators of the severity of the engrained violence in Mzansi society.

“It helps when you have a movie where the theme is topical, but I think South Africans will be interested in the film because of such things… and because of how we are affected by violence I think that dealing with inkabi or hitmen in the fiction space is something very appealing because it’s something that exists here at home,” film director Norman Maake told The Citizen.

But who are these hitmen and where do they come from? Are they cold heartless killers or they do this because they don’t have a choice?

Maake answers these and other questions in his latest film, Inkabi.

“Delving into the human aspect of where do these killers come from, because that’s also a question that we need to start answering for ourselves, especially when it comes to why is our society so violent,” said Maake.

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Being authentic

Maake is a late 90s AFDA graduate, who has directed films such as Love Lives Here, Piet’s Sake and Soldiers of the Rock.

Inkabi is the second film he wrote and directed and he expressed that he wanted it to be as authentic as possible, without coming off as performative.

 “For me, what was important in the film is the authenticity. That it is a story coming from Africa by Africans,” he said.

“You see a lot of films, whether it be Hollywood or Europe where they tell you stories of hitmen… for me, it was important that this hitman is someone that we know and exists in the culture that we know and very well understand,” averred the 45-year-old Maake.

Inkabi was inspired by the real-life stories of the Zulu hitmen who come from the villages of deep, rural Natal.

Most of these men leave the villages chasing dreams of becoming Maskandi musicians and a lot of them fall short and never make it to stage and trade the guitar for the gun to become hitmen.

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The film

Inkabi revolves around Frank (portrayed by Tshamo Sebe) a retired hitman who has chosen to disappear and start his life anew as a private taxi driver.

He befriends Lucy a young woman working at a dodgy downtown casino.  Lucy is portrayed by Kenyan actress Michelle Tiren.

After losing custody of her child, Lucy goes back on a downward spiral of drugs and high-class prostitution and one night on the job, she witnesses the murder of one of her clients – a prominent millionaire.

With nowhere to run, Lucy turns to Frank.

Those watching the movie might walk away from it romanticising the hitman, but Maake said this is not his intention for the movie.

“It’s not the intention of the film to romanticise the hitman, but because in the film the protagonist Frank is also the protector, maybe there will be that element when he does agree to play his part [in helping Lucy] people will see him as a hero, but I think it’s not my intention to glorify the hitman,” he said.

The film doesn’t only deal with violence involving hitmen, but the ubiquity and normality of violence in South African society.

The movie will be available on Netflix from 13 March.

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