ALOT of men want to be him, while many women want to be with him. Hunky Isibaya actor Siyabonga Thwala (48), who portrays the character of taxi owner Mpiyakhe Zungu on the show, has viewers glued to their small screens every weeknight. Mpiyakhe is proud of his Zulu ancestry and is respectful of its customs.

He was once quoted as saying, “I’m a proud Zulu man; I hold my language and my family background very dear to my heart.”

As a further nod to his Zulu pride, he further stated that his career choice was infuenced by the dramas he grew up listening to on IsiZulu radio station, Ukhozi FM. He went on to join Ukhozi FM as the voice of the station. Despite acting on several popular TV shows, the Umlazi-born actor is very media shy and has been able to keep his private life out of the public eye.

Despite the secrecy about his private life, it’s the drama he brings on the screen that has everyone talking. He has been giving stellar performances in all his roles. He has played everything from a CEO to a zombie without ever missing a beat with his performances.

Like several actors, he found his popularity by appearing on soapies. He was on Scandal! as Vusi Zwane; he played Paul Mashaba on Generations; Busani Mojalefa on Muvhango; and DH Radebe on Rhythm City. He made his return to soapies when he was cast as Mpiyakhe on Isibaya. The role caused a frenzy when it was cut off from the show in 2013. Viewers were up in arms, threatening to stop watching Isibaya if they didn’t bring Mpiyakhe back. Fans went as far as starting a Facebook group called Isibaya Please Bring Back Mpiyakhe Zungu Alive Now.

Dying on screen is nothing new to Siyabonga. The characters he played on Scandal! and Generations were also killed off. However, the man has never been fazed by the deaths associated with his characters. When he was first written out of Isibaya, he said, “It’s not the first time that I have been killed off a TV production. People should realise it comes with the territory, strange as it may still sound.” Nonetheless, the creators of Isibaya listened to the viewers’ outcry and brought him back as Mgijimi, the zombie. Still, even as a dark character, he has managed to win viewers’ hearts.


Newspaper reports have claimed that Siyabonga has been on the wrong side of the law on a few occasions. It was alleged in 2015 that he was caught speeding in Durban but managed to run away before receiving his R1 500 fine. KZN Road Traffic Inspectorate spokeswoman, Zinhle Mngomezulu, then confirmed that they were looking for him.

A year before that incident, another Sunday newspaper reported that the actor was homeless because the bank had repossessed his house in Johannesburg.

However, Siyabonga has not entertained any bad press about his private life. It is clear that he prefers to keep his private life a secret so that his excellent work can speak for itself. Efforts to speak to the actor drew a blank.