Actor Wandile Molebatsi talks mental health and what can be done to help drug addicts

30 June 2021 - 08:00 By chrizelda kekana
Actor Wandile Molebatsi says more can be done by government and citizens to help SA youth.
Actor Wandile Molebatsi says more can be done by government and citizens to help SA youth.
Image: Instagram/Wandile Molebatsi

With a 20-year successful career as an actor and storyteller, Wandile Molebatsi has been telling authentic local stories for a long time and he says it still leaves him humbled to to think he can help start important conversations and maybe inspire change with his work.

In an interview with TshisaLIVE, Wandile explained what his passion for storytelling does for him as an actor.

“I love being able to create a storyline that will move people. I find SA has the most incredible stories and I have been working as a producer for so many years that I was excited to get back on screen and use my acting craft to create stories and moments that could move audiences,” Wandile said.

The actor plays the role of the troubled Mamba son, Duma, on's Scandal!  and admitted Duma's story hasn't been easy to tell.

The journey has been difficult. One tough thing was to capture Duma's suffering. As a young father I could relate to how it must hurt Mamba to have a son who is completely different to him. At the same time Duma wanted to be a vet but Mamba wants him to join his underworld work. A lot of young men can relate to wanting to have closer relationships with their fathers. It's a tough bridge to build, especially in black families where we don't really share our emotions and feelings.”

Wandile said he recognised a lot of other young people in Duma's story, adding that many black young people get depressed by societal expectations and turn to drugs to numb the pain when they are rejected for choosing different paths.

“Duma wants to be able to self-define himself and has never been able to do that. As a Mamba he always felt like he needs to live up to what people expect him to be. The truth is he wants to stand up to his father but does not know how. He wants to break away from the shadow his father casts, and drugs numb his pain for a short while,” he said.

The actor said he recognised mental health played a big role in the situation in which his character finds himself. He said when he looks at the black community, he feels young people in particular were aware of the dangers of poor mental health but there are not always properly equipped to deal with their circumstances.

“ People are also often not aware of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is is having on their mental health. Africans are designed and raised to be together and these long patches where we do not see each other are definitely having a negative impact.”