Thembi Mtshali smiles through the pain of loss

Actress Thembi Mtshali-Jones walked on stage last year to accept her lifetime achievement award and revealed for the first time that her husband was no more.

Mtshali-Jones was being recognised for the role she has played in theatre by the Naledi Theatre Awards.

In her acceptance speech she thanked many people, including her late spouse, but her hurt was visible.

The seasoned TV and stage actress poured her heart out while speaking to Time Out about her new role in the drama series Broken Vows, starting on on Monday.

The 67-year-old, who became a household name with the popular comedy Sgudi Snaysi, that featured the late Joe Mafela, says the past year has been tough for her and the family, especially the children.

She says the family finds it hard to accept the death of her husband, who is only known to the public as Mr Jones, because it was sudden.

Mtshali-Jones, who is also an accomplished singer, says the mourning process should be allowed to take its course.

"I believe that time heals but you cannot just wake up and say I have stopped mourning. It's a process... I miss my husband every day," she says.

"I think of him whenever I take on a new role and whenever I get an achievement. He supported me and my career throughout."

When Mtshali-Jones was going through a tough time last year, the late Mafela offered her a shoulder to cry on.

"Joe was very supportive and kept checking on me and the kids. That's why I was deeply hurt by his death. I asked myself what's happening to me. I mean my pillars of strength have gone."

The two veterans met in the early 1970s and became close friends. Mtshali-Jones admits acting alongside Mafela was challenging because he never stuck to the script throughout.

"You had to be on your toes because he would throw in a funny line not in the script. If you don't know your story you would be found wanting."

On her new role, Mtshali-Jones portrays Gertrude, a business woman. She owns Yours Truly Concepts, a company that organises wedding ceremonies.

She was married to a con artist who is now languishing in jail for fraud.

"Getty puts her family and business first and she will do everything to protect both. That is why, when the husband comes out of jail, she does not want him near the two children and her family."

Mtshali-Jones believes that every character in the show teaches society a lot about life.

Take the character of Lydia that is played by actress Nomsa Nene, for example.

"Nomsa plays the role of a woman who turned into an alcoholic after her husband died. It shows how people deal with different problems.

"Viewers will also enjoy watching workers at Yours Truly struggling with their own issues and back-stabbing each other," she says.