Droplets stars still not paid, four years after producer Kabomo released film

Director and producer Kabomo Vilakazi
Director and producer Kabomo Vilakazi
Image: via Facebook

“Pay us our money, Kabomo!”

That’s the tune that the star-studded cast of local film Droplets currently airing on Showmax is singing, demanding that director and producer Kabomo Vilakazi pay them for their contribution.

The cast that includes actors Rami Chuene, Nokuthula Ledwaba, Fulu Mugovhani, Zola Nombona, Nolo Phiri, Zikhona Sodlaka, Salamina Mosese have accused Vilakazi of taking them for a ride.

They said Vilakazi has been ducking and dodging them for four years.

Contacted for comment, Vilakazi referred us to the statement he released on Twitter.

“Droplets is not a funded film. I did not get a cent from anyone to make it. I did not get a sponsor or get commissioned by anyone to make it,” Vilakazi wrote.

“There was no budget from the beginning. It cost me and my wife over R800k to make it and every single cent of that film was paid by us.

“We sold our cars. We downgraded our home to live in the city, where eventually we got kicked out because we couldn't afford the rent,” Vilakazi wrote.

Mostly his industry peers, the cast told Sowetan that they teamed up with Vilakazi on the independent film because they wanted to see his labour of love project come to live.

According to some of the cast members, although Vilakazi alerted them that he was struggling to finance the project, he promised to pay them.

“If he had said there is no money at all, I guess we will understand, but it was a case of I don’t have money and I can pay you guys per call,” Ledwaba said.

“I personally believed in his dream as a producer, especially for a black person to enter that space. We all agreed because we really believed in him and his story.”

Ledwaba was paid for two of her four calls. What triggered the stars to speak out was after Vilakazi scored a deal with Showmax recently that saw the film debut to a local audience.

“Just the decency to say I got a deal with Showmax, it not a lot of money, but here is R3,000 at least for sweets...” Ledwaba said.

“For months after we shot, I will keep reminding him and most of the time he will just blue tick me.”

Another star who asked not to be named said she was shocked to hear from a friend that her film was screening on Showmax, yet she was not fully compensated.

The actress agreed to be part of the project after she signed a contract and they agreed on a rate.

“He complained about the budget a lot, but promised to pay me the fee and that didn’t happen,” she said.

“I have been seeing him on social media and he’s doing well too.  How do you live with yourself? If it was a businessman from overseas that doesn’t know the struggles we go through that would be a different story.”

Chuene addressed a number of tweets to Kabomo, which fellow cast member including Nombona endorsed.

“I know it’s been years but @Kabomo you can’t be leaving a trail like this everywhere you go. Please redeem yourself somehow,” Chuene wrote.

“You can’t be okay with being called a scammer. You’re one of the most talented creatives, don’t mess it up. Please do something about this.”

Kabomo continued to write on Twitter: “A scam would be if I was funded millions and millions and I chose to chow that money instead of using it on the film. That is not true. I did not get any finance from anyone or any channel or institution.

Speaking on behalf of Showmax, Jo Heshu, Group Executive of Corporate Affairs at MultiChoice said:

"MultiChoice licenses content from various external content providers. This is done on the basis that the content providers warrant that they have the requisite lawful rights to license such content. MultiChoice is further indemnified for any disputes that the content provider may have with third parties in relation to any content licensed to MultiChoice."