Sandisiwe Mbhele
Lifestyle Journalist
4 minute read
25 Apr 2022
3:58 pm

Netflix’s ‘Silverton Siege’– An action drama with purpose

Sandisiwe Mbhele

'Silverton Siege' retells the true story of three freedom fighters who sought refuge at Volkskas Bank demanding, the release of Nelson Mandela.

Silverton Siege cast at Netflix premiere in Montecasino, Johannesburg, 14 April, 2022. Picture: Thahasello Mphatsoe

As sceptical and fatigued as audiences are these days of apartheid movies, Silverton Siege shouldn’t be brushed off or ignored.

South African movies have been pigeonholed for years and, at times, criticised for only depicting the most painful part of our history – that of colonialism and apartheid.

So it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume audiences of tired of such movies and want more action movies and comedies.

But what if an action movie still has the element of retelling our history in a manner one can’t forget?

That is what Silverton Siege has done and it is a pulsating action drama with purpose. 

The Netflix Africa original movie depicts a history considered to be rarely told, the story of three black MK cadres, Stephen Mafoko, Humphrey Makhubo and Wilfred Madela, who in 1980 ended up in a tense bank hostage situation after a foiled sabotage mission. 

In the true story, the three freedom fighters scrambled for safety after a failed sabotage mission after realised they were being tailed by the police. In an attempt to escape, they took refuge in a branch of Volkskas Bank in Silverton, Pretoria. 

The ensemble cast of Silverton Siege stars Thabo Rametsi as Calvin Khumalo, Stefan Erasmus as Aldo Erasmus, Noxolo Dlamini as Mbali Terra Mabunda – the infamous trio that the film is based on.

The cast also includes Michelle Mosalakae as Rachel, Tumisho Masha as Sechaba, Elani Dekker as Anne De Klerk, Jacques Gombault, and Arnold Vosloo as police captain Johnan Langerman.  

WATCH: Silverton Siege cast tells all about the action drama

The movie adaption decided on the route to have a female lead with the two men in supporting roles.

This decision was the right one, as this is possibly Dlamini’s best role yet.

She commands the nature of who Mbali is; her thirst for justice, her zero tolerance and holding her own when it comes to the action stunts. The actress was a standout.

The trio held 25 civilians in the bank hostage, making a number of demands, including the release of Nelson Mandela and an aircraft to fly them to Maputo.

Langerman and his team try to negotiate with the “terrorists” to avoid any civilian casualties. 

Director Mandla Dube spoke to The Citizen during the exclusive screening of Silverton Siege at Montecasino, Johannesburg, and said the story is traumatic for him as it happened when he was a child.

According to Dube, at that time, the story was splashed across many publications, releasing graphic images of the tense bank hostages and the lives lost.

Dube says it was important for him to retell this story as he has been working on it for years as one of his passion projects.

Lead actor Ramesti added that the reason the industry is still doing “Apartheid movies” is because no one else will retell our history. 

Rametsi – who bulked up for the movie – trained for a month at a boot camp alongside his co-stars as they learned how to make bombs and shotguns and learned the basic tools and knowledge of armoury.  

The actor lauded his director for his extensive research which was visibly depicted in the attention to detail of many elements in the film such as the tankers, the customs and how police operation’s worked during apartheid. 

The themes vary and are multilayered in Silverton Siege.

It’s just not about the violence and discrimination black people had to face.

Topics such as accepting your blackness are also among the other things you will see in the character played by Mosalakae (Rachel). 

Rachel is a black woman with albinism living a double life as a white person. Then there is also a black American man in the bank who wanted to use his “Americanness” to escape from the hostage situation. 

Mosalakae said playing the character opened old wounds however the main message is for black people to accept themselves and “tell our stories unapologetically.”

Vosloo – who made a long-standing career in America -got emotional after viewing the film with the audience. 

 “As South African, and Afrikaaner nothing makes me prouder to be part of the local industry.” 

The actor said the social impact Silverton Siege will have is people across the globe will end up searching for more information about the real trio, “read about them and educate themselves” after viewing the film.

Silverton Siege is a must-see.

Rating: 8/10.