Tue Oct 21 23:34:37 SAST 2014

Bleak Christmas for Tshisa staff

Dec 10, 2012 | PHINDI SIBIYA |

SABC1 drama Tshisa is in the spotlight again for failing to pay some members of its production team.

This comes barely two months after a group of fed-up actors vented their frustration over the same issue.

Howard Nciweni, who was their director of photography between March and July, says he's ready to name and shame his employers in a desperate bid to get what's owed to him.

Says Nciweni: "I was contracted for three months. We finished shooting on July 28 and since Saturday was a weekend, I expected my pay the day before."

Instead, he claims, they got memos telling them of a possible delay that would be "sorted out quickly".

"Days passed and no one said anything, so a few of us confronted the series producer, Mmamitse Thibedi, who claimed the taxman had deducted a hefty amount from the company's coffers, resulting in non-payment.

"But executive producer Stephanie Pickover said the SABC had not paid Moja Movie Factory, which produces the drama.

"They had the nerve to ignore our calls and I heard Thibedi moved out of her house just so she could avoid us. How sick is that?" says an angry Nciweni, who claims he is owed more than R30000.

"How am I expected to survive the festive season? I have mouths to feed."

Sunday World has seen one of the messages that Pickover sent him, which reads in part: "Hi Howie, I'm SO sorry about this. I am trying to get hold of Mitsi (Thibedi) and our accountant Steven without any luck. I am still desperately trying to source cash as the SABC will be paying us only at the end of August.

"We will have some money by the end of next week at the latest, which I am borrowing from the bank personally.

"Though we will not be able to pay everyone everything, we will be able to pay a percentage. Then the full amount at the end of September. Please pass this on to everyone you are in contact with. If anything changes, I will be in touch - Stephanie."

Attempts to get comment from her were unsuccessful as Pickover did not answer calls or reply to messages. However, she responded to Nciweni's messages.

"Please contact Mitse as I no longer have anything to do with Moja. She is now the sole owner. E-mail her on." reads Pickover's last message to Nciweni.

Efforts to contact Thibedi were also unsuccessful.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago denies that the broadcaster owes the producers.

"I don't understand why they shift the blame to us when they can't manage their finances. It's their (Moja's) mess. They must clean it up," he says .

phindis@sundayworld.co.za

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